When polls close tonight, another vote will open in one part of the country that could cause a bit of European trouble for David Cameron. Tory MPs Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone and Conservative candidate for Corby Tom Pursglove are running a In/Out referendum in North Northamptonshire, consulting around 250,000 people across three constituencies on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
The trio have timed the poll for after the European and local elections have closed for votes but before the result of the European elections is declared, partly so that they cannot be accused of making trouble in any way. They are, they argue, simply following Conservative party policy (now rather than two years ago, when a referendum was not Conservative party policy). It also has approval from the highest levels of the Conservative party.
But what happens if the postal vote, which should return a result at the end of June, says that North Northamptonshire voters want to leave the European Union? David Cameron has made quite clear that he wants to vote to stay in.
‘Well,’ says Bone. ‘We are going to deliver it to Downing Street – Tom, Philip and myself – there will be the physical presentation and we will say we have got to win back these people, these are people that we need to win back otherwise we are going to be in a Labour/SDP situation where the Labour vote split.’
So it’s not a trouble-making exercise, but the result might not be particularly relaxing for the Prime Minister all the same.
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.