More than one-third of Conservative MPs have put their weight behind a new eurosceptic group, just one week after it was set up.
Conservatives for Britain founder Steve Baker, the MP for Wycombe, told City A.M. yesterday that over 110 MPs have expressed interest in the group.
Baker added that while the group is preparing for an “out” campaign ahead of an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership, its members support Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation efforts with his European counterparts and officials in Brussels.
Baker said that one-fifth of the MPs behind Conservatives for Britain would support the Prime Minister’s ultimate recommendation for the referendum, whether it is a “yes” to stay in the EU, or a “no” to exit. He said another fifth of backers had already made up their minds to vote “no,” and the remaining three-fifths would decide how to vote after the renegotiation efforts had wrapped up.
The Prime Minister has promised an in/out referendum by the end of 2017, but no clear date has been set.
Baker told City A.M. that while “ideally” he would want to support Cameron’s renegotiated position, he thought it would be unlikely for him to vote “yes.” “Realistically, I don't think there’s any chance of the European Union agreeing even to the things the Prime Minister has set out in the last weeks and months,” Baker said.
While Cameron has not outlined a specific reform agenda, it is understood that he is negotiating for cuts to benefits for migrant workers and exemptions for the UK from “ever-closer” integration, among other changes.
Meanwhile, it is understood that some of Baker’s Labour counterparts in the House of Commons will soon form their own eurosceptic campaign group known as Labour for Britain.
Writing in the Daily Mail over the weekend, Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey said: “Labour needs to be demanding change from the EU rather than just criticising David Cameron for his negotiations.”