The last three ConservativeHome Saturdays have also been EFTA Saurdays. Over the weekend, Stephen Hammond wrote in favour of joining EFTA. The week before that, David Campbell-Bannerman pronounced against it. And before that, we had Mark Burrows in favour. (See also James Cartlidge from last November.)
Although the Government opposes the suggestion, there is support for it among Tory Soft Brexiteers. Hammond recently led a debate in Westminster Hall on the matter.
The Wimbledon MP is also a supporter of joining the EEA, and it is important to grasp that, although the two overlap, they are not necessarily the same. Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are all members of EFTA. But the last is not a member of the EEA.
If our survey is right, Conservative Party members are set against continued or new EEA membership post-Brexit. Fourteen per cent back the option. Sixty-eight per cent oppose it.
On EFTA pure and simple, opinion is more divided. Fifty-four per cent oppose the suggestion. Twenty-eight per cent support it. Eighteen per cent don’t know – not an insignificant proportion of the whole. Whatever you think of the idea, it can’t fairly be said that, in the minds of a significant tranche Party members, the door to it is firmly closed.
The panel revision for the monthly survey now gets enough returns on day one for us to be able to get some results out fast. More returns will doubtless arrive todaty – but not enough to alter these findings significantly.