Tory civil war reignites

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The Independent Online
Civil war erupted in the Tory Party over Europe again last night, as John Redwood disclosed he is seeking to broker a deal between the Government and Sir James Goldsmith, the international financier, over a referendum.

In a bid to end the threat to Tory seats at the general election by the Referendum Party, Mr Redwood said he would discuss with Malcolm Rifkind, the Foreign Secretary, his plans for a referendum on Europe to be held on the same day as the general election.

Mr Redwood's pressure for a referendum came as the divisions in the Tory party were exposed again over the European issue with Edwina Currie, the pro-Euro Tory MP, attacking demands by Theresa Gorman and Euro-sceptic colleagues as "completely lunatic".

David Howell, leader of the One Nation group of Tory MPs, warned colleagues they had "lost the power of argument and found only the power of abuse". Lord Parkinson said the Euro-rebels were only damaging the Tory party's prospects.

Disclosing that the One Nation group would publish its own manifesto bids within days, Mr Howell condemned as "deplorable" Euro-sceptics who were "calling themselves Conservatives but unable to conduct themselves as such".

Labour last night announced it would seek to exploit the Tory splits by forcing a vote next week on the Common Agricultural Policy in an annual debate, on which there is normally no division.

John Prescott, the Labour deputy leader, said: "John Major is trying to control the uncontrollable. It is difficult not to feel sorry for him. Attacked from left and right, ignored by everyone."