Major welcomes in/out referendum

For much of his premiership, he led a party that tore itself apart over Europe. So it will be with some passion that Sir John Major will welcome David Cameron's promise of an In-Out referendum, saying it is a chance to draw the poison of Europe from the well of British politics.

Yes, he will say in a speech in London, it is a gamble that could mean Britain leaves the EU.

But it is a gamble that Mr Cameron can't avoid and could be cathartic if Britain votes Yes and allows Parliament to focus on other issues.

He will say the prime minister should ignore MPs with Tory heads and UKIP hearts looking to leave the EU.

Instead he should appoint a Cabinet minister as his personal emissary and start looking for allies now who share his ideas for EU reform.

And he will tell Tory MPs to stop bombarding Mr Cameron with demands, because it will look as if he is negotiating under duress for party, and not national, reasons.

As someone whose negotiations kept Britain out of the euro, Sir John's advice will carry some weight.

James Landale Article written by James Landale James Landale Deputy political editor

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