Poll Reignites Tory Warfare over Europe

By Goodwin, Stephen | The Independent (London, England), January 9, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Poll Reignites Tory Warfare over Europe


Goodwin, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)


STEPHEN GOODWIN

John Major's warning against Tory party disunity was brushed aside within 24 hours yesterday as party Euro-sceptics vied with Sir Edward Heath and Edwina Currie for support for their respective stands on European Union and a single currency.

The schism was heightened by the release of a survey by the all-party European Movement, which showed that the British public was broadly pro-European but woefully ignorant of the detail.

Mrs Currie, a Movement vice-chairperson, said the stand taken by the sceptics was "wrong for our country and wrong for our party as well". The pro-Europeans intend a vigorous campaign to get across the benefits of EU membership.

Euro-sceptic backbenchers retaliated, while their Cabinet champion, Michael Portillo, renewed his attack on the defector Emma Nicholson, who is another vice- chairperson of the Movement.

The Secretary of State for Defence told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that a campaign had been "whipped up against me" after his criticism of Ms Nicholson. "The fact of the matter is that {she} did show disloyalty to two prime ministers in a row."

About 56 per cent of those who were polled by Gallup for the Movement described their knowledge of the EU as "poor, or very poor", with only 8 per cent claiming it was "good, or very good".

More than half of those polled - 56 per cent again - agreed that there ought to be "closer co-operation between countries of the EU, with Britain playing a leading role".

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