The original version of this post (given below) was written in 2013, the day before a vote in the House of Commons on the proposal then being put for a referendum.
That bill was ultimately blocked by Lib/Dem and Labour peers in the House of Lords, but of course, following the election of a Conservative majority government in 2015 we are now having such a referendum next month, in July 2016.
I won't pretend that I have been other than disappointed by the quality of the debate: neither side has covered itself with glory. Nor has everything about the management of the debate or the referendum itself been perfect.
Nevertheless, it still seems to me perfectly possible that either side could win. Polls - and yes, they got the General Election badly wrong, so they are not gospel - suggest it is very close indeed and I think it genuinely is. I don't see any way either side could get the sort of two-to-one margin which "In" won in 1975.
This referendum is going down to the wire and we're not going to know who has won until all the votes are counted and the result declared. And because it really could go either way, this referendum will ultimately have allowed the British people to have the final say on whether we should be in the EU or not.
For that reason I will make clear now that whichever side wins, I will strongly urge the other to accept the result as the will of the people and respect it.
If the people vote "Leave" we should activate article 50 and leave the EU, probably on the basis of a the "Flexcit" plan unless the Leave campaign manage to get their act together and put forward a coherent proposal which is different.
If the people vote "Remain" that should equally be the end of the matter for a generation at least.
Either way, the British electorate will have been given the opportunity to leave the EU or stay within to try to reform it, and they will have taken that choice.
ORIGINAL 2013 POST
Tomorrow Conservative MPs will vote in parliament for a referendum on British membership of the EU. This is why I hope the bill to provide such a referendum is passed.