Coffee House

The other awkward European vote

22 May 2014

6:31 PM

22 May 2014

6:31 PM

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.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Lady Magdalene

    Does Bone really think that people who have been smeared, slandered and subjected to the worst case of political bullying and intimidation are going to meekly switch to voting Conservative if Cameron makes a few completely unreliable statements about the EU?
    These people have no emotional intelligence whatsoever.

    • Bill Brinsmead

      .. people who have been smeared, slandered and subjected to the worst case of political bullying and intimidation .. for a moment I thought you were referring to Peter’s relationship with the coalition government.
      All that anger and stress over Europe is not good for Peter.

  • Mr Starter

    My wife tells me I am thick so it must be true, therefore, can someone explain to me what does Bone mean by “we have to win back these people”?Does it mean he thinks people who want to leave the EU should be persuaded to change their minds or does it mean he wants Cameron to change his? Neither will happen so Bone and like minded MPs should either put up or shut up. (I.E.join UKIP or go back to sleep).

  • anyfool

    If the Tories are to have a decent majority they better start being straight with people, Cameron has to realise the electorate is more important than Frau Frump or the fate of the EU.
    The Tory EU fanatics are there under sufferance, they were not selected on a pro EU ticket, in fact a lot were selected by deception, this cannot go on, the people who selected these candidates must make them at least adhere to the policies they used to become the choice of the constituents.
    That is the only honest path to win back support, meaningless polls are not.

  • Smithersjones2013

    we will say we have got to win back these people, these are people that we need to win back

    Now here’s the problem. It is clear that many of the remaining rump Tories are in favour of the EU and staying in no matter what the implication (Cameron, Osborne, Clarke, Hague, Lidington, Heseltine, Green etc etc). Those who vote to withdraw are totally opposed to that position. There is no nuance no shade of grey. Either we are in or we are out and no matter how much Mrs Bone and her hubby wish it was different it aint going to change.

    So Peter, Philip and Tom (and the rest like Corporal Carswell) need to sort their lives out and either prostrate themselves to Brussels as their leaders have done or seek their future elsewhere.

    Possibly the most ridiculous group there is now are those within the Tory party who are persisting to peddle Euroscepticism when it is clear that they have lost the battle and their party is now enslaved withiin the European Nightmare.