Since the 2016 Referendum the Conservative Group for Europe has campaigned to maintain close and co-operative relations with the European Union and against a ‘No Deal’ but has not adopted a single view on the way forward. Alarmed by the current impasse and continued national divisions the organisation has balloted its members in the country to seek a mandate on its campaigning stance.
Asked to choose in order of preference between the Prime Minister’s deal, a referendum, and a Norway/EFTA outcome, 70% chose an Informed Vote on Britain’s EU membership, 12% the PM’s deal and 12% Norway/EFTA as their 1 st preference. When members’ 1 st and 2 nd preferences were combined, 78% preferred an ‘Informed Vote’, 36% a Norway/EFTA deal, 20% support the PM’s deal
and 11% thought the CGE should not adopt a position.
Asked if HMG should seek to extend Art. 50 or revoke Art 50, 52% favoured seeking an extension and 39% opted for revocation.
Significant majorities also backed changes to the franchise so that all those likely to be impacted by the decision have a say in the outcome. Thus 60% favoured extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds, 70% to enable EU nationals resident in the UK and already on the register for local elections to vote and 90% favoured immediate implementation of the manifesto commitment to extend the franchise to all British nationals resident abroad.
Commenting on the results, the Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve, MP, QC, CGE Chairman, said ‘Continuing deep divisions within the country, the threat of a ‘No Deal’ outcome, doubts about the legitimacy of aspects of the previous vote and the profound implications of the EU issue for our national interests make it essential that if Brexit is to go ahead it should be on the basis of a clear and current popular mandate. Given the popular support for a Peoples Vote, the impasse in Parliament and the recent shift in the Labour Party’s position, the result of our ballot is significant. Activists who support traditional Conservative policies on Europe strongly favour putting the matter back to the British people’