By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.
4pm update: People's Pledge sources tells me that Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot has come out in support of a referendum.
Mike Freer, the MP for Finchley and Golders Green, has also backed a referendum. This is significant because Freer was not one of the 81 rebels, but has now come round to the view that Britain should have an in/out European referendum.
These two new additions to the list of MPs supporting the People's Pledge means 68 MPs – from several parties – back a referendum.
Following on from their successful referendum campaign in Thurrock – turnout was higher than in the recent local elections – The People's Pledge campaign have announced further referendums, to be held in 3 contiguous seats. The campaign has announced a shortlist of 39 seats, grouped in 13 contiguous triples, from different regions, from which one triplet will be chosen in the next few days, with a polling date set for late July.
The seats are:
- Mid Bedfordshire, Luton South, Luton North – Nadine Dorries (Conservative), Gavin Shuker (Labour), Kelvin Hopkins (Labour)
- Clacton, Colchester, Harwich & North Essex – Douglas Carswell (Con), Sir Bob Russell (Lib Dem), Bernard Jenkin (Con)
- Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough – Louise Mensch (Con), Philip Hollobone (Con), Peter Bone (Con)
- Carshalton & Wallington, Kingston & Surbiton, Sutton & Cheam – Tom Brake (Lib Dem), Ed Davey (Lib Dem), Paul Burstow (Lib Dem)
- Middlesbrough South & Cleveland East, Redcar, Scarborough & Whitby – Tom Blenkinsop (Lab), Ian Swales (Lib Dem), Robert Goodwill (Con)
- Cheadle, Hazel Grove, Manchester Withington – Mark Hunter (Lib Dem), Andrew Stunnell (Lib Dem), John Leech (Lib Dem)
- Brighton Pavillion, Brighton Kemptown, Lewes – Caroline Lucas (Green), Simon Kirby (Con), Norman Baker (Lib Dem)
- Eastleigh, Southampton Itchen, Southampton Test – Chris Huhne (Lib Dem), John Denham (Lab), Alan Whitehead (Lab)
- Bristol East, Bristol North West, Kingswood – Kerry McCarthy (Lab), Charlotte Leslie (Con), Chris Skidmore (Con)
- Camborne & Redruth, St Ives, Truro & Falmouth – George Eustice (Con), Andrew George (Lib Dem), Sarah Newton (Con)
- Cornwall North, Devon North, Torridge & West Devon – Dan Rogerson (Lib Dem), Nick Harvey (Lib Dem), Geoffrey Cox (Con)
- Birmingham Hall Green, Birmingham Yardley, Solihull – Roger Godsiff (Lab), John Hemming (Lib Dem), Lorely Burt (Lib Dem)
- Calder Valley, Halifax, Shipley – Craig Whittaker (Con), Linda Riordan (Lab), Philip Davies (Con)
Ian McKenzie, Director of the People’s Pledge, said:
“The People’s Pledge is proving that the right issue does energise people. In our local Thurrock ballot last month, 30.4% of people voted by nine to one to agree with a referendum. Turnout in the local council elections just one month later was 5% lower. Escalating the campaign to three constituencies at once will give us more traction at Westminster where there are clear signs that the main parties are at last starting to take their heads out of the sand.”
In the Thurrock referendum, nearly 48,000 ballot papers were issued to local residents. 14,590 ballot papers were returned (by post, text or email). The percentage who said they wanted an in/out vote on Britain's relationship with the European Union was a massive 89.9%. Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, Mark Reckless added:
“I campaigned for an In/Out EU referendum during my election in 2010 and have continued that fight in Parliament. The question is not if but when a referendum will be held, since there is a growing mood in the country for one. I am only sorry that the People's Pledge hasn't included my constituency of Rochester and Strood amongst those where a referendum might be held.”