Hayes votes ‘no’ to EU referendum

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SEASONED Eurosceptic MP John Hayes voted with the Government on Monday night to defeat a backbench motion calling for a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.

All three of Britain’s major parties ordered MPs to vote against the referendum.

Although 111 MPs defied the three-line whip, party leaders mustered 483 votes and the referendum motion was lost.

As well as being MP for South Holland and The Deepings, Mr Hayes is a Government minister.

He told the Spalding Guardian: “As a minister in the Government I am bound by collective responsibility.”

But he says the motion itself – proposing a three-question referendum – wasn’t “helpful enough to those of us who are arch Eurosceptics”.

The proposed referendum would have asked whether the UK should stay in the EU, leave it or renegotiate its membership.

Mr Hayes said under those terms it would be perfectly possible for 33 per cent to vote to come out, 33 per cent to vote for renegotiation – and 34 per cent to vote to stay in.

He continued: “You could end up with the preposterous position with 34 per cent of the people in a three-way split voting to keep us in when the majority of the people wanted something different.

“My feeling is what we really need is an opportunity to renegotiate our terms of entry.

“In a sense, this is about whether this was the right motion at the right time.

“I think there is an absolutely solid case for a different relationship with the European Union and for an end to the ambitions of those who want us to be part of a super state.”

Asked whether he would be in or out of Europe, Mr Hayes replied: “I think I would be in Europe but not run by Europe. I would want – as most of the British people want – to return to the Common Market that we thought we were voting for in the first place.”

Peterborough MP Stuart Jackson was one of the rebels who voted for the referendum and confirmed on Monday he would step down from his post as parliamentary private secretary to Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson.

Mr Jackson said: “For me constituency and country must come before the baubles of ministerial office.”