Tom Pursglove is the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Corby and East Northamptonshire and the Director of Together Against Wind
The British people have been denied their say on our membership of the European Union since 1975. When I am out knocking on doors in Corby and East Northamptonshire as part of my Listening Campaign, people regularly tell me that it is about time they had the chance to have their say. Indeed, there are a whole generation of people, of which I am one, who have never been able to vote on our relationship with Europe.
It is for that reason that Peter Bone MP, Philip Hollobone MP and I, as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Corby and East Northamptonshire, are today launching a North Northamptonshire wide In-Out EU Referendum – the largest vote on this issue since 1975. Around a quarter of a million people will be eligible to take part and whatever their view, I would urge each and every single one to have their say, when the ballot papers drop on doormats, immediately after the European Elections in May.
The other issue that features very heavily on the doorstep is immigration from within Europe – something we can do nothing about, owing to the terms of our current EU membership. From other parts of the world, this Government has been able to cut immigration by over a third, but our hands are tied when it comes to reducing immigration from within the EU. This specific point is raised with me all the time on the doorsteps of Corby and East Northamptonshire and people rightly want to have a say about that aspect of EU policy, amongst many others.
The Prime Minister has promised a nationwide binding In-Out EU Referendum by 2017, if a Conservative Government is elected next year; something the three of us are squarely behind. It is becoming ever clearer, however, that only the Conservatives can, and will, deliver this referendum – Labour and the Liberal Democrats, won’t, and simply put, UKIP, can’t.
In fact, Peter put it well when he asked this of the Deputy Prime Minister, when he stood in at PMQs on the 12th March 2014:
“We now know that the Leader of the Opposition is opposed to an EU referendum and will not deliver one. The Deputy Prime Minister is opposed to an EU referendum and will not deliver one. The leader of the UK Independence Party wants an EU referendum but cannot deliver one. The Prime Minister wants an EU referendum and will deliver it by 2017. Will the stand-in Prime Minister tell the House which of the party leaders trusts the British people and is a real democrat?”
(Some might even claim that Peter’s line of questioning was even more helpful than normal to the Party leadership: it was clearly the source of inspiration behind the Party’s recent infographic on the issue, published just a couple of hours after Nick Clegg was subjected to the question!)
In North Northamptonshire though, we know the answer – the three people hoping to be the local Conservative MPs after the General Election are committed to delivering on this pledge. It is time the British people had their say.