British MPs vote down referendum on EU membership

Updated: 2011-10-25 06:47


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LONDON - British parliamentary members (MPs) on Monday night voted down a motion calling for a referendum on the country's membership of the European Union (EU).

The result showed that 483 voted against the motion, 111 voted for it, and the government wins the vote against holding the referendum on EU membership with a 372 majority. But it is reported that up to 80 Tory members defied the party whip.

On Monday afternoon, parliamentary members held a debate on the motion calling for a referendum to be held on Britain's membership of the EU.

The motion called for a referendum by May 2013, including three choices - keeping the status quo, leaving the EU or changing the terms of Britain's membership of the EU.

In a statement, British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament that "our national interest is to be in the EU, helping to determine the rules governing the single market - our biggest export market, which consumes more that 50 percent of our exports and which drives much of the investment into the UK."

He said it is not the right time, at this moment of economic crisis, to launch legislation that includes an in-out referendum, noting that "That is not an abstract, theoretical argument: it matters for millions of jobs and millions of families in our country."

Cameron added that legislating now for a referendum, including on whether Britain should leave the EU, could cause great uncertainty and could actually damage our prospects of growth.

He said "there's a danger that by raising the prospect of a referendum - including an in/out option - we miss the real opportunity to further our national interest."

Last month, a petition calling for a referendum on EU membership signed by 100,000 people is handed into Downing Street.