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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Tories 'should adopt referendum policy'
Iain Duncan Smith
The contenders have opposing views on Europe
Both Conservative leadership contenders should pledge to hold a referendum for all major European issues if they gain power, a Tory pressure group has demanded.

Ken Clarke and Iain Duncan Smith faced the call as Europe continued to dominate the leadership contest agenda.

It would be a potential vote winner for either of the candidates

John Stafford
It was issued by the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, which believes referenda would strengthen Britain's negotiating hand within the European Union and improve its accountability.

Chairman John Strafford said: "This suggests a sensible and moderate policy on Europe."

"If we can agree that we should have a referendum on whether to adopt the euro, there can be no reason why we should not have a referendum on future European treaties, particularly in light of plans for a future European constitution."

The forthcoming Treaty of Nice, which paves the way for future enlargement of the EU, has already featured in the leadership contest.

Pro-euro Mr Clarke said if elected leader he would probably abstain in the Commons vote later this year but his Eurosceptic rival said if he won he would be leading Tory opposition to the treaty "from the front".

Contest agenda

Europe has remained at the top of the contest agenda despite both candidates publicly saying it is not the most important issue.

It was most recently seized on by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who said Ken Clarke's views would be a "disaster" for the party.

Voting is underway amongst the 300,000 party members who have three weeks before William Hague's successor is known.

The Campaign for Conservative Democracy, formed in 1995 and with around 50 members, aims to promote democracy both in the Conservative Party and Britain.

Leadership contender Iain Duncan Smith MP
"What I do not want is the formation of some sort of State [of Europe]"

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See also:

10 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Tory conference format sparks row
29 Jul 01 | UK Politics
No euro purge says Duncan Smith
21 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Tories deny membership decline
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