The EU referendum: how will your MP vote?

David Cornock
Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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Image source, Wales Office
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Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb telling Cardiff Business Club he's not 'a bought and paid for member of the EU fan club'

How will your MP vote in the EU referendum?

It's a straightforward enough question. Politicians have opinions on most political issues, so why are some so shy about sharing their views on the biggest political question in UK politics of 2016?

Every single Welsh Labour MP, as far as I can see, has signed up to the party's campaign to remain. Plaid Cymru's three MPs and Welsh Liberal Democrat Mark Williams are all expected to back continued membership of the EU.

So what of the 11 Welsh Conservative MPs? Former Welsh Secretary David Jones will vote to leave. Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies voted "no" in 1975 and gives little indication of having changed his mind.

Guto Bebb and Simon Hart both signed a letter to The Daily Telegraph warning about the "real risks" of leaving the EU and backing the prime minister's approach.

Others would have us believe that they are genuine "don't knows", neutral in this debate and are awaiting the result of the prime minister's renegotiations before they carefully weigh up the merits of any deal in a sober way. Nevertheless, I wouldn't hold my breath for a rush of Tory MPs rushing to condemn the shortcomings in any deal David Cameron produces.

In politics, as in comedy, timing can be everything and some pro-EU MPs have calculated that a late declaration of support for "remain" will have more impact. Some feel joining the "remain" camp while expressing eurosceptic doubts will add authority - even if some MPs suspect them of being "plastic eurosceptics" to as Paul Waugh reports.

'Project Fear'

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has kept his powder dry on the issue so far although a speech he is delivering in Cardiff on Thursday suggests strongly he will support "remain" if the prime minister's negotiations are successful.

Or as Matt Chorley of The Times put it in his Red Box briefing: "Stephen Crabb, the Welsh secretary, today becomes the latest cabinet minister to publicly join the In camp."

Mr Crabb probably wouldn't put it quite like that. His speech is more nuanced and warns about the dangers of a "project fear" campaign (although he didn't use the quote trailed by the Telegraph and ITV Wales). He believes the Nigel Farage versus Carwyn Jones debate did little to advance either side's cause and that the issue will be decided in the centre ground.

To re-assure eurosceptics in his own party, he stresses he's not "a bought and paid for member of the EU fan club" and that the status quo (which isn't a referendum option) "is simply not good enough".

'Steve'

Separately, The Sun reports that two prominent eurosceptics - Boris Johnson and Michael Gove - are set to campaign with the prime minister for Britain to stay.

The paper also introduces its readers to "a younger Tory Cabinet minister tipped as a future party leader" who "also declares his hand publicly today to back the PM".

It adds: "Welsh Secretary Steve (sic) Crabb will deliver a speech in which he will insist 'it will be in the UK's best interests to remain in a reformed European Union' if Mr Cameron wins his renegotiation demands."

Mr Cameron has of course "ruled nothing out" but whatever the outcome of the renegotiation I find it hard to believe that the prime minister will return to these shores to admit he has failed and he will therefore be leading the campaign for Britain to leave.

You can read the text of Stephen Crabb's speech here.