Last week I had to take the very difficult decision to vote against my party, as MPs debated this country’s membership of the European Union.
For me, the choice was clear. While it is hard to defy the party’s three-line whip, I know ultimately that I am on a three-line whip to my constituents, my country and my conscience.
It is time for the people to have their say on our relationship with Europe.
More than 36 years have passed since anyone in the country got to vote on this vital matter. And in the four decades that have elapsed, the EU has grown beyond all recognition.
Its influence is felt across all areas of political life, despite two-thirds of the population never having a say on this.
Of course, people will argue that this is the wrong time for a referendum. But I believe that we will never solve this country’s economic troubles without drastically redefining our relationship with Europe.
Just last week, the damaging effects of EU interference were apparent when Tesco announced it would hire fewer part-time staff due to a new employment directive from Europe.
While we must work with our continental partners to promote trade, this sort of regulation and bureaucracy will always do a disservice to Britain’s economic recovery.
Yet despite around 70 per cent of UK citizens supporting calls for a referendum, the motion was defeated in the Commons last week.
But for me, and for many of my fellow MPs, this is not the end of the road. We know that the influence of the EU is ever-increasing, and this must be prevented.
That’s why I welcome the commitment of the government to urgently review powers to be repatriated. In addition to the law preventing further transfers of power to Europe without a referendum, David Cameron has now pledged to actively rebalance our relationship.
This is an important first step. But ultimately, my constituents, and millions of others around the country who feel disenfranchised, still deserve a say on Europe.