Prime Minister David Cameron is reportedly going to let politicians in his own party to campaign to leave the European Union.
This is even though Cameron is against leaving the 28 nation bloc and would rather “seal a better deal” for Britain.
According to The Sun newspaper, an unnamed senior minister in Cameron’s cabinet confirmed that Cameron gave assurances to him and others that they will be “free to take sides,” but only once the referendum date is announced.
Currently the government has only confirmed that Britons will be able to vote to either stay or leave the EU in a referendum to be held by the end of 2017.
This is the quote that the unnamed Minister gave to the Sun.
“He’s going to wait right until the last minute, but he will release his Cabinet.”
The referendum could tear the Conservative party apart
The revelation that Conservative ministers won’t be bound by collective responsibility during the referendum campaign is a sign of just how concerned Cameron is that the question of whether Britain should stay in the EU could tear his party apart.
For some ministers, the issue of whether Britain stays in or leaves the European Union is more important than whether they get to keep their jobs. If they weren’t given the freedom as ministers to campaign for a Brexit, many of them would be forced to resign.
Eurosceptic Ministers have yet to speak out for themselves on this issue, but a growing number of senior Conservative backbench MPs have openly called for ministers to be allowed to campaign freely for Britain to exit the EU.
They include former Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox and former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson who said this week that it would be “wholly incredible” for some Ministers to be expected to back Britain staying in the EU.
The fact that such senior Conservative MPs have been openly saying that Cameron needs to give his ministers freedom will have heaped pressure on the Prime Minister to diffuse the situation.
He has until February 2016 to secure his renegotiation package with the EU, so the very real prospect of one of more of his ministers resigning to join the Vote Leave campaign would have been very worrying.
By discreetly telling his ministers that they will be given freedom to campaign according to their consciences, Cameron has bought himself time to focus on renegotiations without the threat of his parties internal disagreements on the EU spilling out and derailing everything.
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