More than 130 Conservative Party councillors have written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, warning that he risks destroying the Party if he continues to ignore Conservative grassroots opinions on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU).
The signatories have called upon Conservatives across the country to back a British exit from the European Union at a referendum to be held on the matter this summer, arguing that Mr Cameron’s proposed renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s membership had failed as it meets none of the criteria set out in the party’s last manifesto, the Telegraph has reported.
In their letter, the 132 councillors have told the Prime Minister that campaigning to leave the Union is the “only honest and responsible thing to do” in light of the poor outcome of his renegotiation.
“We do not feel these manifesto commitments alone were enough to represent a good deal for Britain in Europe, but given the clarity of the commitment they were at least the minimum outcome we could hope for in any renegotiation,” the letter states.
“As they have not been met, the only responsible and honest thing for the Conservative Party – and for those in it – to do, is campaign for Britain’s exit from the European Union.
“You made clear that if you did not get the deal you wanted in Europe you would not rule out campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union yourself, and we hope you will now unite your party and Britain in doing so.”
Polling has shown that the public are on the councillors’ side – a snap poll following the publication of the new deal thrashed out in Brussels found that the majority of Brits in every demographic thought the deal was bad for Britain by an average of two to one.
Mr Cameron further angered his party last week by telling backbench Members of Parliament to ignore their constituencies when deciding how to campaign in the upcoming referendum. Furious activists threatened not to campaign for Conservative candidates in the May local elections.
In a letter to the Telegraph, Andrew Nicholas, the chairman of Enfield North Conservative Association, said: “Despite what he appears to think, he has no divine right to rule and if he thinks he can contemptuously dismiss the views of those of us throughout the Country who helped to put him in Downing Street, he may well find he is in for a nasty shock in the future.”
Others warned that Cameron was pushing disillusioned Conservatives into the arms of the UK Independence Party.
Arron Banks, the founder of Leave.EU, said: “It’s perfectly clear that the overwhelming majority of the grassroots Conservative party support Brexit.
“The Leave.eu campaign has signed up over 500 conservative councillors and I think the vast majority will be disappointed that David Cameron has instructed his MPs to ignore their views.
“This arrogance will surely endanger the support of the grass roots supporters that get their MPs elected.”