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Conservatives

After a bitter referendum campaign which featured much blue-on-blue infighting, the Conservatives now face a leadership contest to choose the next Prime Minister. Some of the candidates have spoken of the need to unite the party after decades of division over Europe. Stephen Crabb has been the most pleading, urging the party to move beyond the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’. He reckons that failure to do so risks splitting the party. Theresa May has also said that she wants to bring the leave and remain sides together. However, the evidence so far from the leadership contest suggests that the Parliamentary Party is still divided over Europe. With around 60% of Conservative MPs so far making a public declaration of support for a …

Ever since the Conservatives’ surprise win of a Parliamentary majority in the 2015 general election, the EU referendum has been at the centre of public debate. There has been much speculation about how many Conservative members of parliament (MPs) would back Brexit. Now David Cameron’s renegotiation has been concluded, MPs are free to choose sides in the referendum debate. Ever since, scores of Conservative of MPs, including the Mayor of London and six Cabinet Ministers, have endorsed the Leave campaign. Other MPs have sided with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor in backing Remain. My DPhil research focuses on the position of members of parliament with regards to Europe. In this article I use my own dataset of Conservative MPs …
Photo credit: Octavus

Many believe that the EU referendum has been called only to enable David Cameron to appease the Eurosceptics within his own party. This is debatable on numerous grounds. But what is certain is the eventuality that many Conservatives, including possibly some Cabinet ministers, will be joining the campaigns to get Britain out of the EU. For over a quarter of a century the issue of Britain’s role in Europe has been one of the most significant divisions within the Parliamentary Conservative Party (PCP). The European issue has been a reliable source of problems for the party leadership over the years. It has led to many rebellions, numerous defections, the downfall of Thatcher, and partly accounts for the Conservatives’ landslide defeat …