Monday, October 3, 2011

Tory conference: Party member views on an EU referendum

If you could grant Conservative Party members one wish what would it be?

A working majority of their own might come pretty high up the list, but at the party's annual conference in Manchester one subject tends to crop up in conversation more than most: Europe.

David Cameron promised a referendum before any more powers were transferred to Europe - but he is distinctly sniffy about the prospect of a public vote on any treaty changes that might result from the eurozone crisis.

And he has ruled out an in/out referendum, ensuring that any debate by MPs on that issue, which could take place later this year, will largely be an academic exercise.

It's not that Tory party members are all dyed-in-the-wool eurosceptics, just that many of them feel the party is missing a trick by appearing to deny the the public a vote - any kind of vote - on such a crucial issue.
'Keep our sovereignty'

"I come from a Labour background," said Terence Docherty, a Tory activist from Sunderland.

"I've heard lots of people from similar backgrounds in the North East say that, if it meant they were given a referendum on the EU, they would come out and vote Tory.

"I was standing in a charity shop recently. There were these two blokes who said, if there was a referendum, they would vote Tory. It's an issue a lot of people care about."

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