Yesterday an astonishing poll was been released, showing 81% of respondents want to leave the European Union. The poll, conducted by Peter Bone MP, Philip Hollobone MP (Tory MPs for Wellingborough and Kettering respectively) and Tom Pursglove, the parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives in Corby, was carried out in three Northamptonshire constituencies. There were over 14,000 responses, making it the largest poll on our membership of the European project since the In / Out referendum in 1975.
The ballot was counted this week, just a day after Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the European Scrutiny Committee he was confident the Tories could achieve reform in the EU, significant enough to persuade voters to remain in the EU. Clearly this result proves him wrong!
Bone, Hollobone and Pursglove have already confirmed they will vote to Get Britain Out of the EU regardless of the outcomes of Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’ efforts. They delivered the results of the poll to Number 10 yesterday, together with an open letter to the Prime Minister, warning Cameron if they are returned as Conservative MPs in the General Election in May, they will “not support any government that doesn’t guarantee an In/Out vote by the end of 2017”.
The swell of Eurosceptic feeling in Northamptonshire took even these three Conservatives by surprise. Peter Bone remarked he had not expected 14,000 responses – let alone an 81% Out vote – when Tom Pursglove suggested the idea of a poll in their constituencies last May.
Pursglove has also commented the poll was a great way to engage with voters on the doorstep. The most prevalent objections to our EU membership on doorsteps were the EU’s policy of free movement of people, which discriminates against migrants from the rest of the world; the staggering sums of money we are forced to pay into the EU each year and thirdly, the majority of British laws being made in Brussels.
The strength of Euroscepticism in Northamptonshire is further confirmed from recent research by British Future, a think tank which encourages open conversation over the issues affecting the British identity. In their recently released report, British Future’s polling figures show the Midlands as the most Eurosceptic area of the country at the moment, with respondents in the Midlands preferring an exit from the EU by a margin of 17%.
Their research also showed just over 1 in 3 people had firmly decided how they would vote in an In / Out referendum. As such, it shows more work needs to be done to consolidate those considering voting Out, as well as winning over those who currently mistakenly believe substantial reform of our EU membership is possible. However, the report shows a healthy margin preferring Out to In, and this is a cause for optimism as well as the astonishing Northamptonshire poll.
Whilst Peter Bone said he hoped the Northamptonshire referendum would inspire other MPs to poll their constituents on the EU question, he doubted it would be logistically possible to do so as we are so close to the General Election. Martin Vickers – MP for Cleethorpes – is also currently consulting his constituents for their views on the EU and he may be joined by other MPs after the Election, should the Conservatives fail to form a government.
To ensure a legally binding EU referendum is implemented before 2017, Hollobone argues a Conservative government is needed to “deliver a nationwide vote on this issue”. The strength of Euroscepticism in the Midlands is clearly a testament to the hard work of Peter Bone, Philip Hollobone and Tom Pursglove (so let’s hope the voters of Wellingborough, Kettering and Corby will return them to Parliament in May).
Whatever happens, Get Britain Out will continue to inform as many people as possible on all that’s wrong with our membership of the EU. By doing so we hope to ensure a resounding Out verdict throughout Britain when the referendum finally arrives.