A nationwide vote will be held if there is another European treaty, ministers have vowed.
They claim a Bill published yesterday will establish the primacy of British sovereignty over the EU and ensure any transfer of powers are subject to a ‘referendum lock’. The Bill has been described as the most important European legislation since Britain agreed to join the Common Market in 1972.
However, critics say that it doesn’t go far enough. They claim a loophole in the new law means that the Government will let Brussels push through plans to slap fines and other sanctions on Britain as long as the changes are not deemed ‘significant’ by UK ministers.
The Foreign Office said the loophole had been put in place to ensure that minor issues do not trigger an endless series of referendums every time a change is made.
But it provoked a backlash from Tory MPs because it means powers could continue to pass from Britain to the EU every year. Critics pointed out that the plans break the terms of the coalition agreement, which promised that ‘no further powers should be transferred to Brussels without a referendum’.