The gun lobby has abandoned plans to field parliamentary candidates, and is backing the only party which has not committed itself to a firearms ban. The development is particularly worrying for David Mellor, who called for a total ban on handguns and faces an election battle with Goldsmith for his Putney seat.
Chris Evans, spokesman for the British Shooting Sports Council, said: "A lot of shooters are saying they will vote for the Referendum Party. The party won't ban guns - they don't have a policy on it." The council, an amalgamation of 10 shooting associations, has 500,000 members and could exercise considerable electoral clout.
Michael Yardley, of the newly-formed Sportsmen's Association, which has 50,000 members, said: "There does seem to be considerable support among the membership for the Referendum Party. "It is more a protest vote than anything else although it is true that many sportsmen and women feel strongly on the European issue."Reuse content