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The great European debate: is your MP in, out, or shaking it all about?

The great European debate: is your MP in, out, or shaking it all about?

🕔22.Feb 2016

The question of whether Britain should remain a member of the European Union is proving as divisive in Birmingham and the West Midlands as it is inside David Cameron’s cabinet.

Six Birmingham MPs think the prime minister’s renegotiation with Brussels is good enough and that we should stay in the EU. They are Jack Dromey (Lab Erdington), Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill), Richard Burden (Lab Northfield), Jess Phillips (Lab Yardley), Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak) and Shabanah Mahmood (Lab Ladywood).

Two city MPs are in favour of Brexit. They are Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green) and Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston).

Perry Barr Labour MP Khalid Mahmood had campaigned strongly for leaving the EU, but has undergone a last minute change of heart. He said he could no longer support the ‘leave’ movement because the campaign was focusing on the sole issue of immigration.

Mr Mahmood has told friends he has not yet decided how to vote in the referendum, although he is backing the prime minister’s success in negotiating a deal which will make it harder for EU migrants in the UK to claim benefits.

Andrew Mitchell, Birmingham’s only Conservative MP, has yet to announce how he will vote but is thought likely to join a number of Tories backing Mr Cameron “with a heavy heart”.

Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, is in the same camp. He’s said he wouldn’t vote in favour of Britain joining the EU if the question was being asked today, but believes the economic and political fall-out from and exit would be too damaging to contemplate, so he will vote to stay in.

Some 213 of Labour’s 230 MPs have signed up to support the ‘stay in Europe’ campaign.

Conservatives are split over the issue, with almost half of the parliamentary party believed to be in favour of Britain getting out of the EU.

Prominent Brexit supporters in the West Midlands include Michael Fabricant (Con Lichfield), Bill Cash (Con Stone) and Owen Paterson (Con North Shropshire).

Tories campaigning to stay in Europe include Caroline Spelman (Con Meriden), Nigel Huddleston (Con Mid-Worcestershire) and Mark Garnier (Con Wyre Forest).

Mr Cameron confirmed on Saturday, following an emergency cabinet meeting, that the referendum to decide whether Britain remains a member of the EU will be held on June 23.

He was immediately greeted by open revolt within his cabinet, with six senior ministers demanding Britain severs its links with Brussels.

They include Michael Gove, the Justice Minister, one of Mr Cameron’s closest friends in politics, as well as Chris Grayling, the Leader of the Commons, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Theresa Villiers, the Northern Ireland Secretary, John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary and Priti Patel, the Employment Minister.

And plunging home a deftly placed stiletto, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, announced yesterday that he would be joining the Britain out movement, although in an article for the Daily Telegraph Mr Johnson appeared to be backing both horses by suggesting an ‘out’ vote would enable the UK to get back to the negotiating table with Brussels and secure advantageous terms to remain in the EU following a second referendum.

Mr Johnson’s intervention, not wholly unexpected, sets up a delicious secondary battle between the mayor and pro-EU Chancellor George Osborne, the two leading contenders to replace Mr Cameron as Conservative party leader, and prime minister. The mayor’s Brexit credentials will, of course, do him no harm with grassroots members who are overwhelmingly Eurosceptic.

In a statement following a meeting of the European Council where he negotiated changes to give the UK “special status” in the EU, Mr Cameron said Britain would be permanently out of ever closer union and “never part of a European superstate”.

Listing the changes, the prime minister did his best in an attempt to convince at least 140 anti-EU Tory MPs that Britain’s best interests lay in remaining in Europe:

There will be tough new restrictions on access to our welfare system for EU migrants – no more something for nothing.

Britain will never join the Euro. And we have secured vital protections for our economy and full say over the rules of the free trade single market while remaining outside of the Euro.

I believe it is enough for me to recommend that the United Kingdom remain in the European Union – having the best of both worlds.

We will be in the parts of Europe that work for us, influencing the decisions that affect us in the driving seat of the world’s biggest market and with the ability to take action to keep people safe.

And we will be out of the parts of Europe that don’t work for us.

Out of the open borders. Out of the bailouts. Out of the Euro. And out of all those schemes in which Britain wants no part.”

Mr Cameron added:

We have permanently protected the pound and our right to keep it. For the first time, the EU has explicitly acknowledged it has more than one currency.

Responsibility for supervising the financial stability of the UK remains in the hands of the Bank of England, so we continue to keep our taxpayers and our savers safe.

We have ensured that British taxpayers will never be made to bail out countries in the Eurozone.

Mr Cameron said he had secured commitments from Europe to complete trade and investment agreements “with the fastest growing and most dynamic economies around the world including the USA, Japan and China as well as our Commonwealth allies India, New Zealand and Australia” in a deal that “could add billions of pounds and thousands of jobs to our economy every year”.

On migration from Europe to the UK, one of the most controversial aspects of the renegotiation, Mr Cameron said he had secured powers to stop criminal from other countries coming to the UK and to deport them if they are already here, longer re-entry bans for fraudsters and people who collude in sham marriages, and an end “to the ridiculous situation where EU nationals can avoid British immigration rules when bringing their families from outside the EU”.

He added:

We have also secured a breakthrough agreement for Britain to reduce the unnatural draw that our benefits system exerts across Europe.

We have already made sure that EU migrants cannot claim the new unemployment benefit, Universal Credit, while looking for work. And those coming from the EU who have not found work within six months can now be required to leave.

Today we have established a new emergency brake so that EU migrants will have to wait four years until they have full access to our benefits. This finally puts an end to the idea that people can come to our country and get something for nothing.

We have also agreed that EU migrants working in Britain can no longer send child benefit home at UK rates. The changes will apply first to new claimants. And, after intense negotiations, we have ensured that they also will apply to existing claimants, from the start of 2020.

Big business is largely backing the campaign to remain in the EU. The CBI signed a letter with its counterparts in Germany, France, Italy and 16 other EU Member States, saying: “It is for the British people to decide the outcome but European business strongly supports continued British membership of a European Union that takes the necessary reforms to be competitive, outward-looking and continue delivering growth, jobs, peace, security and prosperity for all.”

The Institute of Directors and Engineering Employer’s Federation (EEF) both released polls showing a clear preference among business and manufacturers for Britain staying in the EU.

Both surveys both showed approximately 60 per cent of their members would support Remain.

IoD boss Simon Walker said Mr Cameron had “secured positive changes” through his renegotiation, but warned reform of the EU “cannot stop” once the referendum has been held.

EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler added: “There are no rose-tinted spectacles here – our members are fully aware of the pros and cons of EU membership and, on balance, have decided that the UK’s interests are best served by remaining.”

The polls come ahead of a letter from FTSE100 bosses, which is expected to be published tomorrow, when at least 50 of the country’s biggest businesses will urge voters to back Remain.

How will your MP vote in the EU referendum?

This list shows the believed voting intentions of West Midlands MPs and is based on research by blogger Guido Fawkes and Chamberlain Files. Any change of heart, or misrepresentation, let us know and we will maintain a rolling list of how MPs plan to vote.


Jack Dromey (Lab Erdington)

Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill)

Richard Burden (Lab Northfield)

Shabanah Mahmood (Lab Ladywood)

Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak)

Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North)

Rob Flello (Lab Stoke South)

Rob Marris (Lab Wolverhampton South-west)

Pat McFadden (Lab Wolverhampton South-east)

Geoffrey Robinson (Lab Coventry North-west)

Colleen Fletcher (Lab Coventry North-east)

Jim Cunningham (Lab Coventry South)

John Spellar (Lab Warley)

Valerie Vaz (Lab Walsall South)

Tom Watson (Lab West Bromwich East)

Adrian Bailey (Lab West Bromwich West)

Sajid Javid (Con Bromsgrove)

Mark Pawsey (Con Rugby)

Caroline Spelman (Con Meriden)

Nigel Huddleston (Con Mid-Worcestershire)

Mark Garnier (Con Wyre Forest)

Gavin Williamson (Con South Staffordshire)

Jeremy Lefroy (Con Stafford)

Karen Bradley (Con Staffordshire Moorlands)

Tristram Hunt (Lab Stoke Central)

Ruth Smeeth (Lab Stoke North)


Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green)

Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston)

Julian Knight (Con Solihull)

Bill Cash (Con Stone)

Michael Fabricant (Con Lichfield)

Marcus Jones (Con Nuneaton)

Craig Tracey (Warwickshire North)

James Morris (Con Halesowen and Rowley Regis)

Bill Wiggin (Con North Herefordshire)

Christopher Pincher (Con Tamworth

Mike Wood (Con Dudley South)

Owen Paterson (Con North Shropshire)


Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr)

Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield)

Robin Walker (Con Worcester)

Amanda Milling (Con Cannock Chase)

Harriet Baldwin (Con West Worcestershire)

Karen Lumley (Con Redditch)

Phillip Dunne (Con Ludlow)

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