PM refuses to rule out EU referendum on same day as other elections next year

时间:2019-11-16 责任编辑:郑择苷 来源:澳门银河官网网址 点击:91 次

has left the door open for an early EU referendum to be held on the same day as other elections next year, despite Labour’s call for it to take place on a different date.

At his weekly prime minister’s question time, Cameron was pressed by the acting Labour leader, , to rule out holding the poll at the same time as elections for the Scottish parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies and the London mayor in May 2016.

Harman said she “strongly agreed” with the Electoral Commission that referendum polling day should not feature any other elections and urged the prime minister to agree a separate voting day .

However, Cameron replied: “My view is the timing of the referendum should be determined by the timing of the renegotiation. When the renegotiation is complete, we set a date for the referendum.

“I don’t myself think it should be determined by the timing of other elections.”

He also said he had been satisfied with the referendum on whether Britain should adopt the alternative vote electoral system, which was held on the same day as other elections, telling MPs: “I think people are capable of making those two decisions.”

The prime minister also spoke of his EU negotiations taking place over the “coming months”, rather than year, which would be the case if he holds the poll in 2017 as originally planned. A Downing Street source cautioned that not too much should be read into this language.

During the encounter, the prime minister was put under pressure by Harman to adopt a less aggressive tone, as she told him he should “show a bit more class” in his responses to her questions.

Speaking the day after MPs overwhelmingly backed plans to hold an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, Harman first demanded to know why the government’s plans did not allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote, as they were able to in the Scottish independence referendum.

Cameron repeated that he was happy for parliament to vote on the issue of votes for 16- and 17-year-olds, but it was unlikely to be a free vote in which Conservative MPs would be allowed to vote against the government.

“First of all can I thank the honourable lady and all those Labour MPs who joined us in the division lobbies last night,” said Cameron.

“After five years of opposing a referendum, to watch them all trooping through, it was the biggest mass conversion since that Chinese general baptised his troops with a hose pipe.”

He added: “I believe this house should vote on that issue. The Conservative manifesto is clear and my position is clear. I think we should stick with the current franchise at 18, but the House of Commons can vote.”

Speaking hours after the , described prime minister’s questions as “an exchange of pointless and useless declamations”, Harman criticised the prime minister’s responses to her questions.

“He won the election, he’s the prime minister,” said Harman. “He doesn’t need to do ranting and sneering and gloating. He can just answer the question and frankly, he should show a bit more class.”

Harman also tackled Cameron over his decision not to impose a period of “purdah” on the government during the referendum campaign.

Despite Labour saying on Tuesday that it supported the government on the issue, Harman appeared to shift her party’s position, making the point that the poll “must be fair and be seen to be fair”.

She said: “Why are you changing the law to exempt the government from the rules which are there to ensure the government doesn’t inappropriately use public funds or the government machine in the short campaign. Will you think again about this?”

Cameron replied by making the case that the referendum campaign could not obscure the ability of ministers to engage with EU summits, European court judgments or other issues emanating from Brussels.

He added: “The second issue I would raise – and I think this is a bigger issue – is when the negotiation is complete and the government has a clear view, I don’t want us to be neutral on this issue, I want us to speak clearly and frankly on this issue.

“When it came to the Scottish referendum, I actually felt in the last few weeks before the referendum the UK government was often being advised it couldn’t take a view on the future of the UK.

“I think that was a ridiculous situation, which is why we have put forward the change to the purdah rules.”