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UK House of Commons approves bill to hold EU membership referendum

The UK House of Commons [official website] on Friday approved of a bill [materials] that would order a nationwide referendum in 2017 to determine whether the UK will remain within the European Union (EU) [official website] after its third reading in the House. The bill, introduced in the House of Commons by Conservative MP James Wharton [official website], has now been released to the House of Lords [official website] and will be introduced to the upper chamber by Lord Dobbs of Wylye [personal website], who will attempt to win support for the bill. The Liberal Democrats and Labor Party [official websites] both oppose the measure, and party sources speculate [Guardian report] that the bill will face its biggest challenges in the House of Lords. The bill was originally proposed [JURIST report] by Prime Minister David Cameron [official website], who advocates that the amount of involvement the EU has in the UK's bureaucratic process warrants a vote by the people to determine its membership.

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]. Cameron had previously [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. This is not the first time, however, that the UK has considered such a proposal. In 2011, Parliament voted 483-111 against holding a national referendum [JURIST report] on remaining a member of the EU. If that proposal had been approved, 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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