EU Referendum

MPs will get a veto over EU referendum date

David Cameron will have to win support from the House of Commons for his chosen EU referendum date in order to make it legal


He conceded: “Given the timescales involved and given the fact we now expect that the conclusion will be reached at the February European Council, I think you can be confident that it will not be possible to hold a referendum before the date of the Scottish elections that you refer to.”

He added: “Ultimately it will be a decision of this House because the date will be decided by a statutory instrument brought before this House.”

Under the rules, if the government is not able to secure agreement on a date it can keep bringing the same motion back to MPs in the hope of winning them over eventually. Only the government will be free to set the date of the referendum vote.

Phillip Hammond, the new Foreign Secretary takes up office in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Philip Hammond said MPs will be able to veto the date  Photo: David Rose/The Telegraph


The exchange came as government ministers were yesterday under growing pressure to reveal immigration statistics that could reveal the hidden scale of foreigners working in Britain.

Late last year HMRC was forced to backtrack after rejecting a request for information on how many foreign nationals were working in the UK because it could undermine the EU renegotiation.

However a promise to publish the data in the new year has not yet been realised and no date given for when it will be released.

Stephen Parkinson, director of the Eurosceptic campaign Vote Leave, said: “This information is crucial to the referendum debate – civil servants at the Treasury should not be covering it up.

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“Immigration from the EU is already running at historically high levels which creates real pressures on schools and hospitals.

“People will want to see these numbers as they make up their minds in the referendum on taking back control of our borders from the EU.

“Ministers should order civil servants to release these numbers immediately.”

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