Thurrock chosen for first EU ‘referendum’

By Graham Fahy

Voters in Thurrock constituency are to be given an opportunity to vote on Britain's continued membership of the European Union on April 5th.

A full by-election-style campaign, supervised by Electoral Reform Services Ltd and run by eurosceptic campaigning group the People's Pledge, will seek to draw government attention to public concern over Europe.

The People's Pledge claims to be supported by at least 64 serving MPs. It hopes that, although unofficial, its 'referendum' replicating electoral politics will bring pressure to bear on government.

The Thurrock campaign will be run from a highly visible local shop and campaigners will canvass door to door and use posters and leaflet drops. The organisers will use external media where possible and expect to run stalls and organise public meetings and other events.

Voters will be asked if they "should be given a national referendum on whether the UK remains a member of the European Union. Agree/disagree?"

Ian Mckenzie, People's Pledge director of communications, said: "Whether you want Britain to leave the EU or be part of an ever-closer union, you have the right to vote on what that future relationship should be.

"The People's Pledge is giving the electors of Thurrock the chance to lead the way towards a national referendum."

The Thurrock referendum is the first of 11 such events planned by the People's Pledge for 2012.

It intends to hold a further 100 in 2013, allowing it to claim this will be the largest ground campaign for a EU referendum in the UK to date.

It is their hope that a tangible eurosceptic expression by voters will pressure MPs, rival candidates and all the mainstream political parties to push for a referendum to be held in the next parliament.