Conservative Diary

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Should Conservative candidates be able to say that they support leaving the European Union?

That was the question asked of Conservative Party members in the recent ConHome grassroots survey.  I promised not to publish the results until after polling day and, now it's 6th June, here they are:

  • Yes, they should be completely free to do so: 59%
  • Yes, but they should not expect to be able to join the Conservative frontbench if elected: 18%
  • No, they should support official policy with regard to Britain's continuing membership of the EU: 23%

I asked the question after two adopted candidates in highly winnable seats had contacted me in response to my own declaration of joining 'Better Off Out' on 22nd May.  The two candidates told me that they would like to do the same but had been forbidden from doing so by CCHQ.  One of the candidates had been told: "We give you permission and the floodgates will open."

There's only one candidate who has got away with identifying with Better Off Out so far and that's Gordon Henderson (our candidate in Sittingbourne and Sheppey).  He made the pledge before the CCHQ clampdown.

Candidates are subject to stricter control than MPs.  Anti-membership MPs are not allowed to sit on the frontbench but Philip Davies MP and Douglas Carswell MP, among others, retain the whip despite their opposition to Britain's continued membership of the EU. 

Tim Montgomerie

> A ConHome survey in July 2006 found 63% of members supportive or sympathetic to the Better Off Out campaign.


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