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The People’s Pledge is Britain's biggest and broadest-based campaign for an
in-out EU referendum.
Since our launch in March 2011 on a cross-party, EU-neutral basis we have driven an EU referendum up the political agenda, gained a broad list of supporters and signed up MPs of all parties together with nearly 400 councillors and over 132,000 members of the public.
Reflecting our role in moves to win political support for an EU referendum, in the last parliament we also acted as the Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for an EU referendum.
Our first initiative, held in October 2011, was a huge Congress for an EU Referendum. The event brought together politicians of all parties, businesspeople, special interest groups and the media to debate the issue in a day-long event in Westminster, also attended by around 2,000 activists.
During 2012 we ran three dramatic local referendums in the marginal constituencies of Thurrock in Essex, then in Cheadle and Hazel Grove in south Manchester. These votes were independently administered by Electoral Reform Services and gave over 120,000 people in these key marginal seats the chance to express their view on whether there should be a national EU referendum.
On greater turnouts than those seen at the local elections, the vast majority of people in all three constituencies voted to back a national referendum, sending a clear message up the political system.
Since we launched, all the major political parties have shifted their stance on an EU referendum, most notably the Conservatives. David Cameron in September 2012 u-turned to start talking about a 'new settlement' and 'fresh consent' in relation to EU membership, some months prior to UKIP's return to prominence through surprise results in the November 2012 Corby and Rotherham by-elections. UKIP's role in that shift has since been hugely overplayed, rewritten based on the party's subsequent increase in profile. In January 2013 Mr Cameron formalised his plans in his Bloomberg speech, pledging if re-elected to hold an in-out EU referendum by the end of 2017 - a dramatic turnaround from whipping his party to vote against an EU referendum in October 2011.
After shifting positions several times over a referendum on the EU Constitution and Lisbon Treaty, as part of the May 2010 coalition deal the Lib Dems also agreed to back a 'referendum lock' law.
In January 2013 Labour first said it would not repeal the coalition's 'referendum lock' legislation, then a year later shifted to say that this should trigger an in-out vote in the event of power transfers.
Now, in stark contrast to the situation when we launched, all the major Westminster parties support an in-out EU referendum. Differences only remain over the timing.
EU Referendum Bill
During 2013 the People's Pledge was at the forefront of efforts to secure parliamentary approval for the EU Referendum Bill. The Bill's first passage was killed off by the House of Lords, chiefly unelected and never-elected Labour peers, and later its second passage was cut short by the Lib Dems when they refused it a government money resolution. Nevertheless, the Bill's progress through the House of Commons demonstrated broad support in parliament for an in-out EU vote. We backed this Bill not for who, or which party was promoting it, but for what it would deliver; an in-out EU referendum by the end of 2017.
Following a range of activities in 2014, we revealed that we had finally been successful in persuading an absolute majority of MPs across seven political parties to support an in-out EU referendum held within the next few years.
Today the People's Pledge continues to campaign to persuade the Labour party, Liberal Democrats and others - ultimately, a majority of MPs across all parties - to make their own Pledge to guarantee to give people a direct in-out say on Britain's membership of the EU.
In this year's general election, our aim is to maintain and improve the majority of MPs across all parties who back an EU referendum.
Please sign the People's Pledge today (top right) and send a clear message to your MP about your support for an EU referendum.