Are the Conservative and Labour parties both in favour of EU membership?
Not quite! The Conservative and Labour parties have had internal disagreement on EU membership since we joined in 1973.
Labour and Conservatives campaigned on for both sides in the 1975 referendum on whether to remain part of the “Common Market. The voters were told that the “Common Market” was a free trade area – not a political union.
Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain part of the European Community (the Common Market)?
At least 165 (50%) Conservative MPs have already declared themselves as ‘Leavers’ in the coming referendum. (Inluding six cabinet ministers and other major figures. e.g. Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith. At least two-thirds of Conservative Party members are said to want Brexit.
The Labour Party is similarly conflicted, although they are not discussing it as openly. A number of Labour MPs have declared in favour of Brexit: Kate Hoey MP, Graham Stringer MP, and Kelvin Hopkins MP. A major Labour donor millionaire John Mills heads up the Labour Leave campaign group. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn was opposed to EU membership throughout his career but now nominally backs the Remain campaign.. While a majority of Labour MPs are in favour of remaining this does not reflect the feeling of a very large numbers of their members. Even Andy Burnham MP, a Europhile and a former contender for the Labour Leadership had to admit despite campaigning to stay in the EU that, “If I was to lay money on it…I would bet that Brexit is going to win”. [xviii]
Even the usually Europhile Scottish National Party are not united on this issue. Jim Sillars, a major figure in the SNP and a former Deputy Leader has written an excellent pamphlet arguing why Scotland should vote to leave the EU. Mr. Sillars sums the issue up succinctly when he writes, “Should the Parliament we directly elect make our laws? If the answer is Yes, the coming out of the EU is a must. If the answer is No, then you must accept having laws imposed on your society with which your elected government does not agree”.