Last Friday ConservativeHome published an analysis of the lobbies competing to either encourage David Cameron to honour his EPP pledge – or find a way of kicking it into the long grass.
Today – with the help of the ConservativeHome Members’ Panel – we can add another group that believes it is vital that David Cameron and William Hague take Tory MEPs out of the European Peoples’ Party… the party membership.
By an overwhelming majority – 71% to 19% – Tory members think that David Cameron’s credibility is at stake. This issue of David Cameron’s credibility emerges as the crucial issue in the whole EPP saga. Whether it is right or wrong to stay in the EPP, most members think that the ‘bankability’ of all of David Cameron’s promises could be undermined if the Conservative leader is seen to wriggle out of a promise that many observers expected to be carried out immediately after he became leader.
EPP exit has been delayed because William Hague has found it difficult to find ‘acceptable’ allies for a new European parliamentary grouping. There have been suggestions – perhaps unfair – that certain prospective partners are, for example, homophobic or anti-Semitic. These suggestions have had an impact on those 1,519 members surveyed by ConservativeHome. By two-to-one Tory members think it better for Tory MEPs to sit "isolated" within the European Parliament than with a "homophobic party".