England

Campaigners step up calls for EU referendum

  • 16 September 2011
  • From the section England
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European Parliament
David Cameron recently rejected calls for a referendum on the European Union

Campaigners calling for a referendum on the UK's future membership of the European Union are stepping up pressure on the government.

David Cameron recently rejected calls for a referendum, despite more than 100,000 people signing an online petition supporting a public vote on the issue.

As the financial crisis in the Eurozone dominates the news agenda, anti-EU campaigners say ministers should not rule out asking the British people to decide on whether we should loosen political ties with our continental cousins.

Grimsby has long been regarded as one of the most eurosceptic towns in the country, with many blaming Brussels for the decline of the fishing industry.

Greater transparency

From a small office in her Grimsby home, housewife Josephine White wages war against an organisation she describes as "undemocratic".

Mrs White is part of a group of non-political activists who monitor EU spending and campaign for greater transparency.

Josephine White told the BBC Politics Show in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire: "The EU makes so many of our laws these days. I think that in itself is undemocratic.

"Mr Cameron needs to ask what we think, it's time we were asked."

European referendum

But one Euro MP believes those who want to leave the EU should be careful what they wish for.

Margaret Thatcher in European colours in 1975
Margaret Thatcher shows her European colours before polling for the Common Market referendum in 1975

Diana Wallis, a Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber said: "There's nothing to say our own economy won't be in dire straits and we might one day be looking for help from Europe.

"We need Europe as much as Europe needs us."

The last and so far only European referendum was in 1975, when British voters agreed to remain part of what was then called the Common Market.

With a new group of eurosceptic Conservative MPs pushing for a different kind of relationship with the EU, the issue of Europe looks set to cast a long shadow over the political landscape for some time to come.