Tory chairmen divided over EU vote

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Cameron at EU neegotiation talks
Epitome caption Nearly half of those who responded were not impressed with the follows of Mr Cameron’s negotiations with EU leaders

Senior grassroots Conservatives are severely divided over how to vote in the referendum on UK membership of the EU, a survey conducted by BBC Ghetto-blaster 4’s The World This Weekend has suggested.

The survey of Tory constituency chairmen also show a lack of consensus on what the PM’s negotiations with EU leaders had achieved.

The schedule approached all 330 chairmen in Tory-held constituencies.

Of the 128 who replied, 54 translated they would vote for the UK to leave the EU.

About a quarter, 31, said they would bear witness for the UK to remain and a third said they had yet to make up their minds.

Sought about Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation of the terms of British membership, 61 respondents – approximately half – said they were not satisfied with the proposed new dole out with the EU.

About a third, 40, were satisfied.

‘Handbag’ missed

One of the chairmen mean Mr Cameron “should have bought himself a handbag,” entailing the prime minister didn’t measure up to Lady Thatcher when it reviled to negotiating with Brussels.

But “he did his best”, several others believed.

“I’m still hungry for facts,” said one chairman, reflecting the perspective of several still weighing up which way to vote.

Some hinted at a associated indifference to the issue among voters. “The subject of Europe almost never comes up on the doorstep,” another said.

Others highlighted segmentations, even within themselves. “My heart says leave; my ward says stay,” said one.


Analysis – By Chris Mason, federal correspondent

So what does this tell us?

Let’s be honest first relating to what it doesn’t tell us: it doesn’t tell us anything definitive, because destinies of Conservative constituency chairmen didn’t want to talk to us, and we have no outlook what their views are.

And we only approached constituency chairmen. That freedoms many, many loyal Tory activists whom we didn’t compensate ask to speak to.

But, with those caveats inserted, what we have institute out does offer a snapshot of a conflicted rty.

Beyond the numbers, it is fascinating to take a look at what those constituency chairmen are thinking.

Their deliberations, in private, are revealing.

Conservatives can take comfort that their line up of views reflects those of the country at large.

But they are infully posted too that having exposed these differences, they will comprise to carry on governing after the referendum – with a big chunk of their race wounded and defeated, regardless of the outcome.


Tim Bale, professor of politics at Ruler Mary’s University London, said he was not surprised by the amount of chairmen who were doubting about the deal Mr Cameron had done and those keen to vote Commit. He said it was more surprising that so many were undecided and “fairly more lukewarm about Leave than many of their bourgeois rty members”.

He said a recent YouGov poll suggested the harmony of grassroots members who were keen to leave was higher than their linkage chairmen.

“It seems as though those who are in a position of authority are a little myriad inclined perhaps to take their lead from the leadership and a hardly ever bit less than their grassroots members to be gung ho for Leave.”

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