CAROLINE ANSELL: Where I stand on the EU referendum

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell outside Houses of Parliament SUS-150722-141636001
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell outside Houses of Parliament SUS-150722-141636001

I am pleased that the Prime Minister has allowed ministers within the cabinet to campaign whichever way they want in the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s relationship with the EU.

I am asked almost everyday when the referendum will take place. Of course this is a decision for the Prime Minister, but it could be from anytime from June onwards - and will definitely happen by the end of 2017.

There are strongly held views and arguments on both the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ sides of the campaign. Personally, I am reserving judgement until the Prime Minister has presented his case, when we will know exactly what the ‘deal’ is.

Some think he won’t come back with anything, and others have an entrenched position ‘whatever he does come back with won’t be enough’. I am determined not to be cynical. We know from the past that David Cameron is a strong negotiator - he has proved this before in Europe, and he can do so again. I certainly don’t start from either sides’ position. I will decide when I know exactly what we are voting on.

And of course the most important thing on this is that it isn’t just me voting. Everyone will have a vote and mine will carry just the same weight as everyone else’s.

I am saddened that the BMA has decided that junior doctors should come out on strike on Tuesday, and possibly again in a few weeks with full , all out strikes including the removal of all emergency cover, potentially putting the safety of thousands of patients at risk.

I would deeply regret this, if it goes ahead. I am in discussions with leaders at the DGH about contingency plans should they be needed, but progress is clearly being made in this dispute, and the only logical way forward is to continue with negotiation.

I have met with local junior doctors in recent months, and a more caring group of professionals is hard to imagine. I am looking forward to meeting with one of our junior doctors shortly and shadowing their work - but in the meantime I do hope the BMA call off this strike. They claim not to have a choice - but they clearly do - they could choose not to strike and to continue to talk, which is the obvious, and sensible way ahead.