- The Conservative General Election Manifesto of 2015 promised a referendum on membership of the EU in the following terms: “We believe in letting the people decide: so we will hold an in-out referendum on our membership of the EU before the end of 2017.” The Conservative Party won that election in May, 2015. The British people were given a politically and constitutionally binding promise in the election manifesto that they would be given the final and deciding say in a referendum in which the majority would prevail.
- During the debate (Hansard) on the Referendum Bill on 9 June 2015, the Foreign Secretary said:- “This is a simple, but vital, piece of legislation. It has one clear purpose: to deliver on our promise to give the British people the final say on our EU membership in an in/out referendum by the end of 2017.” He went on to say “Few subjects ignite as much passion in the House or indeed in the country as our membership of the European Union. The debate in the run-up to the referendum will be hard fought on both sides of the argument. But whether we favour Britain being in or out, we surely should all be able to agree on the simple principle that the decision about our membership should be taken by the British people, not by Whitehall bureaucrats, certainly not by Brussels Eurocrats; not even by Government Ministers or parliamentarians in this Chamber. The decision must be for the common sense of the British people. That is what we pledged, and that is what we have a mandate to deliver. For too long, the people of Britain have been denied their say. For too long, powers have been handed to Brussels over their heads. For too long, their voice on Europe has not been heard. This Bill puts that right. It delivers the simple in/out referendum that we promised, and I commend it to the House.”