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UK House of Commons approves bill to hold EU referendum

The UK House of Commons voted 304-0 on Friday in favor a bill [materials] that would guarantee a nationwide referendum in 2017 to determine whether the UK would remain within the European Union (EU) [official website]. The bill was introduced by Conservative MP James Wharton [official website] in order to give British citizens the opportunity to share their opinions on the matter. Although Friday's vote was a success for the Conservative MPs, only a small number of Labour MPs took part in the vote due to a mass boycott [BBC report] by both the Labour MPs and the Liberal Democrats [official website]. Friday's second reading of the bill is only the first formal stage of its progress through Parliament [official website]. After consideration in committee and a third reading in the House of Commons, the bill will be sent to the House of Lords [official website] to face another vote.

Twenty MPs of the Conservative Party [official website] urged Cameron [JURIST report] in May to expedite a nationwide referendum in response to results from local elections earlier that month in which the UK Independence Party (UKIP) [party website], a group with a focus on removing UK ties to the EU, received 26 percent of the vote in county polls [Sky News report]. UK Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] guaranteed [JURIST report] in January that if his party were to win the next election in 2015, the Tories would then push legislation for the referendum. In 2011, Parliament voted 483-111 against holding a national referendum [JURIST report] on remaining an EU member. In that proposal, the referendum would have put forward three options for a vote: to remain in the EU, to leave the EU, or to re-negotiate membership terms.

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