Former Party Chairman Norman Tebbit has become the latest senior Conservative to lend his weight to The Freedom Association’s Better Off Out campaign. Lord Tebbit joins Frederick Forsyth and former Commons Speaker Lord Weatherill as patrons of ‘BOO’. Explaining his decision, Lord Tebbit said:
"From being a supporter of British membership of the Common Market in 1970 I have come to believe that the United Kingdom would be Better Off Out of the developing European Republic of the 21st century. We British have a thousand year history of self-government. We have been free and democratic longer than any other nation. The European Union is too diverse, too bureaucratic, too corporatist and too centralist to be a functioning democracy. We are happy to trade with our European friends and the rest of the world – but we would prefer to govern ourselves."
In a Q&A for today’s ConservativeHome, however, John Maples MP – in charge of candidates at CCHQ – says that he and the party will take "a dim view" of any candidate that signs the BOO pledge. "This campaign is contrary to party policy," he writes, "…[and] we expect candidates, before and after selection to support party policy." Gordon Henderson, Tory candidate in Sittingbourne and Sheppey, is the only candidate to have signed up to BOO so far. A poll by ConservativeHome of party members found that 30% supported the BOO campaign and another 33% had sympathy for its objectives but feared it might be divisive.
Related link: We must have the courage to break free of the EU, says Philip Hollobone MP.