It's your support that makes the difference.
We drive change in Europe.
In a big decision UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced today that members of the Cabinet will be allowed to campaign for either Remain or Leave in the EU referendum. Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel examines why he took this choice and what impact it could have.
5 January 2016
The long standing fear within the Conservative Party has been that the EU referendum will pit MPs, members and supporters against each other in a poisonous battle and may result in the party tearing itself apart. The logic runs that if senior members were unable to speak out in favour of Brexit but were instead bound by collective responsibility (backing the presumed Cabinet line of Remain) then there would be mass resignations and it would be near impossible to piece the party back together again afterwards. As such, the logic here is presumably that it will be easier to bring the party back together if everyone is able to speak their mind in an open and amicable way – though whether this will be the reality remains to be seen. Cynics might argue that, faced with the prospect of more high-profile resignations than he had bargained for, the Prime Minister had little alternative.
I expect the decision has also been taken to remove one stick with which those backing Brexit can beat the Prime Minister with. Previous errors, such as over the purdah, which provoked a backlash are also still fresh in the mind.
Not entirely given that there were a number of reports and leaks before Christmas that Cameron had decided to allow ministers to campaign freely. That said, it was far from confirmed and there is a lingering question of whether there has been a hardening of positions within the cabinet and potential threats of resignations which encouraged Cameron to publicly take this position. Until very recently there had been numerous stories of cabinet reshuffles and job offers to maintain loyalty and reduce the risk of mass resignations, which seems to clash somewhat with this announcement.
It could prove to have a few important implications: