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)


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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