Conservative Diary

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David Cameron will inherit an increasingly Eurosceptic nation and party

There'll be lots of interesting number crunching after tonight's European Elections but I'm with John Redwood in being particularly interested in the percentage of votes that will be cast for broadly Eurosceptic parties. In 2004 it was 55% when you tot up the Conservatives, UKIP, the Greens, BNP and a few other small parties. I expect that percentage to be even larger tonight.

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As well as real votes cast in the European Elections there are many opinion polls that point to Britain becoming more Eurosceptic:

  • An ICM poll for the TaxPayers' Alliance recently found that "By 57% to 37% Britons favour unilateral repatriation of powers if the EU refused to give us permission to do so."
  • The same poll found that membership of the Euro (which would have greatly handicapped our economic recovery) is rejected by 75% to 23%.
  • 67% agree that the economic crisis demonstrates the need for Britain to take back control of trade and economic policies.
  • A YouGov poll for The Economist found that "over the past quarter-century the proportion of people who think Britain’s membership of the EU is a good thing has fallen from 43% to 31%... The share of those who think it a bad thing has risen from 30% to 37%."
  • A ComRes poll for BBC1's Daily Politics found that 55% of Britons supported leaving the EU if Britain maintained close trade relations.

Up until now the Conservatives have adopted a careful approach to Europe.  They've taken good decisions - leaving the EPP, for example - and bad decisions - fixing the MEP selection process and abandoning the policy of scrapping the Common Fisheries Policy.  The parliamentary party will be overwhelmingly Eurosceptic after the next General Election.  94% of the new intake believe too many powers have been transferred from Britain to Europe.  63% of Conservative members are at least sympathetic to the idea of leaving the EU.  Should he become Prime Minister, David Cameron will have lots of popular and political support if he takes Britain in a Eurosceptic direction - particularly if he connects his policy shifts with the economic costs of the EU and a nation's right to govern itself in crucial areas of tax, borders control and crime fighting.

Tim Montgomerie

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