Not Party Policy To Give Voters An EU Referendum, Says Ukip MEP

Gerard Batten of UKIP talking after his election to the European Parliament at City Hall in central London, this evening.
Gerard Batten of UKIP talking after his election to the European Parliament at City Hall in central London, this evening.
John Stillwell/PA Archive

If Ukip holds the balance of power after the next election it would try and persuade the government to lead the United Kingdom out of the European Union without first having a referendum, one if its MEPs has suggested.

Gerard Batten, a MEP for London and founding member of the party, told a meeting on the fringes of the Ukip conference in Doncaster on Friday evening that it was "Ukip policy to leave the European Union, not to hold a referendum".

"If we can get six, twelve, twenty four, however many Ukip MPs, and it might be more than that, we could actually hold the balance of power," he said.

Batten added: "We could ask whoever, if there is a government, there may not be a government, there may be a hung parliament, we could say we want to leave the European Union. Who knows by then the political climate may have changed that we do leave, if that's not possible then we demand a referendum, a free fair and equally funded referendum."

His favoured method for the UK to leave the EU would be for the Commons to vote to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, rather than invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Under the Article the UK would negotiate its withdrawal with other member states, but Batten said this would be a "quagmire" that could last years.

Batten also hit out the "incredibly biased" Electoral Commission that would set the question in any EU referendum. Batten said the independent body had deliberately set an "emotive" question in the recent Scottish independence referendum and that "any fool" could have made it fairer. Batten said Scots should have been asked whether they wanted to stay or leave the UK, rather than whether they wanted to be an "independent country".

In his speech to the Ukip conference on Friday, Nigel Farage said he hoped the party could gain several MPs in 2015. "If we get this right, and if we win enough seats in that parliament in what is going to be a tight general election we could even say to people 'vote Ukip to hold the balance of power'," he said.

"And if we hold the balance of power there won't just be a referendum on our EU membership there will be a culture change in British politics. It will be a kind of politics that represents ordinary men and women in this country. It will be politics of change, it will be a politics that is better than the one we have today."

David Cameron has promised to hold an in/out EU referendum should he win the 2015 general election. However Ukip have said he can not be trusted to honour the pledge. Ed Miliband has refused to make a similar offer, instead saying a a Labour government would hold a public vote should any further powers be handed to Brussels.

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