Op-Ed: As UK PM David Cameron announced the date of the upcoming 2016 EU referendum, June 23, 2016, it was all 'jolly good show' and ‘all pals together’ but that did not last long.
The Tory government boss David Cameron and his senior ministers tried to say the party remained united, best of friends and so much more and would not fall into the trap of publicly arguing over the EU issue but the cracks soon started to show.
Tory MPs are allowed a free run in the EU referendum campaign, at least up to a point.
There is no whip telling them how they should campaign and which side of the fence to jump.
This has led to serious divisions in the Conservative party and to fairly equally matched in and out campaigns by senior figures.
If it was a popularity contest and you were a Tory party supporter Cameron’s better in Europe campaign would have to be your choice. The better out campaign has the likes of Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel trying to persuade the electorate to leave the EU. Of course if you are a Tory fan you may not see that group of individuals as vile; if you are not you may.
There seems to be a conspiracy theory for almost each and every action in the 21st Century and there are a few surrounding the UK EU in /out referendum.
One claims that the EU out Tory campaign is full of their most hated MPs to encourage the electorate to vote for the country to remain an EU member; another theory hints that the people of Scotland will vote to leave the EU simply to force a second Scottish Independence referendum.
But however the Tories try to spin or buy the news there is no Tory party unity over the EU.
The referendum is making for strange political affiliations such as George Galloway and Nigel Farage sharing a campaign platform.
There are some breakaway Labour groups campaigning to leave the EU but the party has taken a firm stance and is campaigning for the UK to stay an EU member country.
As the Tories straddle the fence with two semi-official campaigns running alongside each other unity has left the building.
DWP boss Iain Duncan Smith has accused Cameron of being pessimistic over a UK future outside of the EU and having a ‘low opinion of the British people’.
Various Tory ministers are making statements to the mainstream media which illustrate that the party is as expected at odds over the EU.
Some MPs and voters will not be happy with Cameron’s renegotiated terms as they do not go far enough but others are long time Eurosceptics who simply want the country to leave the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have said they will not share a platform with Cameron’s better in campaign and that is a wise move.
Cameron promised the referendum to shore up his political party not for any unselfish reasons. He has made his bed and must lie on it.
But apart from that Labour are campaigning for the EU to stay as part of the EU on a very different mandate.
This time the Tory party must sort its own dirty laundry and in public; the knives are out.
Metro - EU referendum: Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle says Labour is not split on EU but the Conservatives are in "meltdown"
New Statesman - the Tory split that Labour craved has arrived – but the party can't exploit it
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