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Walker votes for backbench motion on Europe

Worcester's MP a reluctant rebel but proud to stand by constituents on referendum

Robin Walker, Worcester's MP very reluctantly went against a three line whip to vote in favour of a backbench motion for a referendum on Britain's relationship with the European Union.

Having discussed the issue with many constituents, local party members and friends he decided he could not stand by and allow the cross party back bench motion to be voted down unopposed. All three of the major political parties had imposed a three line whip on their MPs effectively making them choose between their future careers and their ability to vote freely on the issue.

Robin, who has always believed passionately in the need to repatriate powers from Europe and to negotiate a relationship based on trade and cooperation instead of the current political arrangement moving to "ever closer union", felt that he could not vote against a motion which included exactly this as an option.

The backbench motion was brought forward by the backbench business committee of the House of Commons following a public petition which had achieved over 100,000 signatures. It was signed by large numbers of MPs from both the Conservative and Labour parties and supported by over 100 MPs including Worcestershire's Karen Lumley and Robin Walker.

Speaking after the debate Robin said

"It was an incredibly difficult and serious decision to speak out against my own party whip but I felt that it was wrong that all of the major parties imposed harsh whipping on what should have been a backbench debate. In my opinion this should have been a free vote. When it came down to it I felt I could not vote against a motion which included exactly what I have always advocated. I accept that many colleagues will have felt differently and I respect their right to make up their own minds. I do believe passionately that we need to renegotiate and I know that many of my constituents feel the same way. I am very grateful for the many letters of support I have had on this issue."

In the debate Robin set out that he was proud to be a moderate and no Euro-fanatic, he welcomed the steps that David Cameron has taken to protect Britain from future bailouts and introduce a referendum lock and he expressed support for a compromise motion which had not been selected by the speaker but concluded

"I am a passionate supporter of my party and this coalition Government, but it is a well-established convention that constituency should come before party and, still more importantly, that country should come before all. On that basis, I shall support the motion tonight."

The full text of Robin's speech and the full House of Commons debate can be found here:


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