By Matthew Barrett
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Between Liam Fox's speech this morning, and David Cameron's statement to the House about his European Council meeting (at 3.30pm), a number of backbench Tories have voiced their mixed feelings about the Prime Minister's referendum intervention.
"A lot of people think that the current government should renegotiate its relationship with Brussels so that we just have an economic relationship and then put that to the British people. Either we accept the terms or we leave and I think that’s what many Conservatives think should be done and what we would like the Prime Minister to say very clearly."
Stewart Jackson (Peterborough), appearing on the BBC's Daily Politics, set out his desire for an "unambiguous commitment" from the Prime Minister for a referendum:
"It’s time we trusted the people, because frankly, people don’t trust senior politicians, mandarins, or Europe any longer. David Cameron has to be clear, unambiguous and specific with a timeframe for what that renegotiation will be. … What I, and many colleagues want is an unambiguous commitment, a route map to real renegotiation at this historic juncture with the EU and definitely a referendum to let the people decide."
John Baron (Basildon and Billericay), the author of the 100-MP letter calling for a referendum, welcomed Liam Fox to his campaign:
"I’m pleased Liam is joining our campaign, calling for a referendum in the next Parliament. I think it’s a step in the right direction. … I’m disappointed, somewhat disappointed, by the Prime Minister’s response. We’re not calling for an in/out referendum now – that seems to have been the hint, or the message from Number 10. What we’re calling for is, as I say, a promise, a commitment for a referendum in the next Parliament that would allow us to have time for an informed debate as to what the question, or questions, should be."
Finally, the Spectator's Isabel Hardman reports:
"I have learned that five parliamentary private secretaries are writing individual letters to the Prime Minister to outline their own demands for a referendum. … I've just spoken to Conor Burns, PPS to Owen Paterson, who has confirmed that he is one of the five who have written letters. He says that he wanted to register his support for the Baron letter even though as a ministerial aide he cannot. Though the Sunday Telegraph article was, he says, an 'improvement to his comments on Friday' (where the Prime Minister explicitly slapped down the demands, saying MPs would have to make do with the referendum lock), Burns plans to raise the issue in the chamber too"