By Tim Montgomerie
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This is the text that Mr Eustice (once a member of UKIP then Cameron's press spokesman and now a leader of the whips-friendly 'Fresh Start on the EU' group of MPs) has sent to his parliamentary colleagues:
"Many colleagues have asked whether it would be possible to consider amending the current motion on an EU referendum next Monday so that is more closely reflects the views of the majority of the parliamentary party while being consistent with the intention behind the petition we have received. A number of us have submitted the following amended motion which I hope you might consider supporting:
"This House calls upon the Government to publish a White Paper during the next session of parliament setting out the powers and competences that the Government would seek to repatriate from the EU, to commence a renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU and to put the outcome of those negotiations to a national referendum.”
In the meeting that we held early in September, there was a strong consensus among colleagues that the EU is now an issue that unites rather than divides Conservatives and that, now we are in government, front benchers and back benchers should work together to deliver a fresh start in our relationship with the EU. This amendment is consistent with the coalition agreement which gave a clear commitment to examine the competences of the EU which a White Paper setting out a renegotiating position would fulfil. The advantage of having a referendum after the renegotiation rather than before is that the public would then be able to judge whether or not the government had succeeded and this would put pressure on the government to negotiate forcefully.
There is no guarantee that this amendment would be called and I should also point out that, despite being consistent with the coalition agreement, it is not yet supported by the government. However, they have given an undertaking to consider their position over the next few days and take on board representations received. I would therefore urge any backbench MPs who feel closer to this motion than the one currently tabled to add their names to it. Likewise, I would urge any front bench MP who would like the opportunity to vote in favour of the motion rather than be ordered to follow Ed Miliband through the voting lobbies to make their views known to the Prime Minister’s office.
Anyone who would like to add their name to the list must do so before 3pm tomorrow (Friday). If you are not in London, please email my office. We will be trying to arrange for someone to table names on behalf of those who are absent. If you want to help and happen to be in London, please let me know."
Why am I reminded of this?
8.45pm: Chris Heaton-Harris MP, another founder of the Fresh Start group blogs that he does NOT think the Eustice amendment is a wrecking amendment but that he will be supporting David Nuttall's amendment.