Cameron, Milliband and Clegg have all told their MPs to vote against a referendum and the whips are working over their MPs to make sure they toe the party line.
The debate and vote has been scheduled for a week's time to ensure MPs aren't swayed by any inconvenient lobbying from voters and the question will be whether to hold a referendum on leaving the EU, leaving things as they are or the mythical "reform" option.
The exact wording of the motion is:
This motion calls upon the government to introduce a bill in next session of Parliament to provide for the holding of a referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU on the current terms, leave the EU, or renegotiate the terms of its membership in order to create a new relationship based on trade and cooperation.
The motion has been very carefully worded to make the "reform" option the most prominent and appear to be the most reasonable but I wonder if the LibLabCon have scored an own goal offering two pro-EU options? The thinking behind it is probably that the "reform" option will attract Labour and Lib Dem voters and then they can safely continue with their EU integration project. But is the delusion that powers can be taken back from the EU widespread or convincing enough that it can overturn the majority who oppose our EU membership?
I'm not so sure but the soft option of "reform" will be attractive to soft eurosceptics (or Tories as they're more commonly known) - people who think that membership of the EU is damaging to our country but who can't decide whether we should leave altogether. There are only two real options - keep things as they are or leave - because "reform" is impossible as it requires the unanimous agreement of all member states and the Lisbon Treaty/EU Constitution only allows for more powers to be taken, not for powers to be given back. But "reform" is a safe option, the maybe or undecided option that you won't find on opinion polls and surveys (on any subject) where the questioner wants a definitive yes or no answer to a question. It's human nature, when faced with a difficult decision, to choose the middle ground which is why the motion isn't for a simple in/out referendum.
The case has been made for leaving the EU over and over again, what is lacking is the case for staying in. The only answer you will get if you ask is "the benefits are obvious" which shows just how weak the europhile argument is. If the benefits are obvious then list them, it shouldn't be too hard to state the obvious. The figures are fudged to hide the fact the EU counts for only a small amount of our global trade and then used to put about scare stories that our economy relies on the EU (ignoring EFTA membership which would give us the same access to the protectionist single market). Propaganda is spread about companies relying on EU immigrants to do jobs that "us Brits" won't do when unemployment has risen to almost 5.6m.
There is very little that benefit from EU membership that can't be got from membership of EFTA or through bilateral treaties and what few benefits there are are far outweighed by the damage that EU membership does to our country. Email your MP and politely but forcefully instruct them to serve the interests and wishes of the majority of their constituents and vote for the referendum.