Attempt to amend Queen's Speech over EU referendum fails

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A bid by Conservative rebels and other MPs to amend the Queen's Speech has failed.

The amendment "regretting" that a referendum on Britain's EU membership was not included in the Queen's Speech was defeated by 277 votes to 130, after six hours of fierce debate, on 15 May 2013.

The cross-party group persisted in their demonstration of discontent, despite the prime minister's introduction of a draft bill guaranteeing a referendum on EU membership in 2017.

Natascha Engel, one of the Labour signatories to the amendment on the EU, condemned the High Speed 2 rail project as symptomatic of "a far wider political problem: one of the things that mattered to these people - these people we say we represent - is that they are not being consulted".

But David Rutley, a Conservative MP, said that when it comes to the economy "ambition does not stop at the English Channel... there is more work to be done within the EU and in wider international markets".

The SNP's Pete Wishart described Britain as a "surly, sulky member of the EU" and said: "I want my country out of all this - UKIP's values does not chime with the social values of Scotland".

Winding up for Labour, shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie told the House: "This isn't the legislative programme of a functioning government at all, it's a sticking plaster.

"The sad truth is that this government is too weak, too divided and too distracted. It is fiddling on about Europe while the economy burns," he added.

From the government front bench, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander replied: "With a cost of £28bn in extra borrowing their alternative Queen's Speech is certainly not credible."

On EU membership, Mr Alexander elaborated: "The collective voice of EU member states helps advance UK interests and influence across the world."

In the evening's other votes, Labour's amendment to regret the Queen's Speech "has no answer to a flatlining economy" was defeated by 329 votes to 244.

Plaid Cymru's amendment regretting a lack of legislation for further Welsh devolution was defeated by 316 votes to 237.

The main motion, effectively approving the Queen's Speech, was backed by 314 votes to 237.

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