Goldsmith harvests the Boycott vote

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The Independent Online
True to form, the Yorkshire cricketing legend Geoffrey Boycott played a straight bat when asked whether he would be one of Sir James Goldsmith's star team of candidates for the Referendum Party at the next election. "All I know is my personal view coincides [with the Referendum Party's]," he said in New Delhi yesterday. "We don't want to be ruled by anyone but ourselves ... politicians always seem to tell me they know better ... But what a right fuck-up they make."

Asked whether he would vote for the Referendum Party Mr Boycott, who turned down an invitation to air his views at the party's inaugural conference in Brighton on Saturday because of television commentating duties in India, replied that he would "wait and see".

Oddly, by signing up for Sir James Goldsmith's party, he would find himself on the same side as his long-time cricketing adversary Imran Khan, married to Sir James's daughter Jemima, who is expected to help the party during the election.

At Brighton, however, there will be another new celebrity recruit - the actor Edward Fox, 59. He will tell delegates that referendums are part of the British heritage. "I am greatly impressed by John Redwood," he said "Obviously an extremely clever man.

But I'm not so sure that he has the qualities or is in a position to be the leader that Britain needs at this time."

Writing in the the Express on Sunday, Mr Fox said he had "the greatest faith in the sanity, common sense and wisdom of the ordinary Englishman". Charles de Gaulle, the 48-year-old grandson of the late French president and an MEP colleague of Sir James's, is also expected to speak at the conference.

As the Referendum Party's election campaign launch got under way, Sir James turned the heat up on Tory Euro-sceptic MPs whom he could be challenging. The party is fielding a candidate against Sir Michael Spicer, a leading Euro-sceptic Tory MP. "Michael Spicer's history is one of moving with the wind. On the left wing in Heath's government, he moved over and became a Thatcherite. I do not believe what he says," Sir James said on the BBC1's On the Record yesterday.

But Sir James said there was no Referendum Party threat to Ken Livingstone, the Labour MP. In spite of being described by Sir James as a Euro-federalist, Mr Livingstone supported a referendum and would therefore escape a challenge.

The Referendum Party also includes as candidates John Goldsmith (no relation) and his wife, Julia, who take opposite views about Europe, but agree on the need for a referendum. Because of their voting record, the eight Euro-sceptics who lost the Tory whip would not be challenged. Sir Teddy Taylor, one of the leading Tory Euro-rebels, said the Referendum Party would "take off like a rocket".