Only a Eurosceptic Tory party can win a majority
By Douglas Carswell Politics Last updated: November 13th, 2013
643 Comments Comment on this article
The “real Tory divide” on Europe, according to my friend James Kirkup, is between Tory MPs in safe seats versus those in the marginals.
“Those sitting on fat majorities” he wrote the other day “are intensely comfortable banging on about Europe”. Whereas “those fighting for survival” in marginal seats say that the Tory party should talk about “anything but Europe.”
That might be what some folk brief lobby correspondents, but I am not sure it is a view supported by the evidence.
If Euroscepticism was an indulgence of MPs in safe seats, one would expect Eurosceptic “rebels” to come from seats with bigger majorities. In fact the opposite is the case.
The size of the average Conservative MP's majority is, according to my calculation, 9,471. Yet the average majority amongst those 81 Tory MPs who voted for an In/Out referendum before it became party policy is 8,276.
If anything, those who woke up the “we-want-a-referendum” thing first had smaller majorities.
Correlation, of course, is not causation.
Perhaps those MPs in more marginal seats tend to be younger, and thus more Eurosceptic in outlook? The fact that an MP is a Eurosceptic could help explain why in certain cases they have a safe seat in the first place.
I suspect that MPs in more marginal seats are more receptive to the views of their (overwhelmingly Eurosceptic) electorate.
No matter, we all support an In/Out referendum now. Which is my real beef with what James wrote.
Lobby correspondents have spent so many years writing about “Tory splits” on Europe that they have missed the real news; there is no longer a significant Tory divide on Europe. We all agree to let the voters decide if we stay or leave.
Before David Cameron committed us to an In/Out referendum, there was on average an EU-related Commons “rebellion” every three to four months. Since then? I can't think of a single one.
Of course, now that we do agree on letting people vote to get us out of the EU, we can focus on many of the other changes Britain so desperately needs as well.
It has been suggested that even if Britain votes to leave the EU, they are bound by the Treaty , what happens then?
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