Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

MEP resigns in referendum dispute

Roger Helmer
Mr Helmer characterised the policy as losing "the family silver"

Conservative East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer has resigned from the frontbench of the European Parliament after David Cameron ruled out a referendum.

The Tory leader said a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was now pointless but promised a sovereignty law to limit EU influence if he wins power.

Mr Helmer criticised the move as "cosmetic" and said he could not support the policy.

He has been a outspoken critic of the EU since being elected in 1999.

In a statement, Mr Helmer said: "What we have is an essentially cosmetic policy. We are installing a largely ineffective burglar alarm when the family silver has already been stolen.

"I can neither justify nor support our new EU policy. In these circumstances, I have concluded that I can no longer continue to serve as a spokesman for the delegation. I have accordingly resigned both my spokesmanships with immediate effect."

Mr Cameron's policy has also been sharply criticised by France's minister for Europe, Pierre Lellouche.

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