Demand for an EU referendum by the people of Greater Manchester could throw closely-contested Lib Dem seats into jeopardy at the next election, claims a campaign group.
The People’s Pledge, an independent campaign for an EU referendum, yesterday saw over 25,000 Cheadle and Hazel Grove constituents vote in favour, a figure which outweighs their MP’s majorities at the last election.
Graham Stringer, the Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, said: “The issue of a referendum will be central to the next election, and those Lib Dem euro fanatics better beware.
“There is no doubt that a vast amount of British people want an EU referendum, and the reason it hasn’t affected election results in the past is because people didn’t relate our relationship with shambles that is the EU to our economy, but it clearly is.”
The campaign has targeted 39 seats to poll nationally, which are grouped in 13 touching triples and have been chosen using various criteria.
Both Cheadle and Hazel Grove’s MPs, Mark Hunter and Andrew Stunell, hold marginal seats which will be contested at the next election.
Mark Seddon, national spokesperson for the People’s Pledge, commenting after the results were announced, said: “This is an astonishing result which has significant implications for both of the local Liberal Democrat MPs, and for both the major parties.
“The results in Manchester mean that Britain's politicians can no longer afford to ignore popular opinion. The party that has the courage to adopt a pro-referendum position could potentially win millions of extra votes.
“If Ed Miliband has the courage to champion the right of the British people to have their say about the EU, he could secure a victory at the next general election.”
However, last month the Labour leader said the issue was ‘not a priority’ and stated that most people were more worried about living standards than a vote on Britain’s links with Brussels.
Mr Seddon added that given Britain’s relationship with the EU is not currently centre stage, it is remarkable that over a third of voters in Hazel Grove and Cheadle have chosen to participate in this independent referendum.
Of over 83,000 ballot papers issued, almost 30,000 people returned their ballots, giving a turnout of 35%, fractionally more than the local elections turnout across Stockport of 34% this May.