Tories say they want to leave EU and prefer Boris to Cameron

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Some 92 per cent of party believe PM's vetoing of a new EU treaty was his best moment, poll shows

A majority of Conservative Party members want Britain to leave the European Union. A poll of 1,566 party members, carried out for The Independent by the ConservativeHome website, shows that David Cameron delighted the Tory grassroots by vetoing a new EU treaty at this month's summit in Brussels.

But the survey also suggests that he may have created hopes of forging a more detached relationship with the EU that he may find difficult to fulfil – and that he will come under pressure from his party to continue to prove his Eurosceptic credentials. If he does, he would risk fuelling tensions with the Liberal Democrats and his fellow EU leaders. If he does not, he would upset many of his party's activists.

Some 54 per cent of Tory members say their ideal vision of the relationship is for the UK to leave the EU and sign up to a free trade agreement. Although that view is shared by a minority of Tory MPs, the poll suggests the party's grassroots is more in tune with the policy of Ukip, which wants Britain to pull out of the EU.

Meanwhile, 24 per cent of Tory members favour a more flexible relationship with the EU, with continued co-operation on key policy areas. Some 10 per cent say the UK should maintain its current relationship but ignore European laws which are not in the country's interests, while 5 per cent believe Britain should leave the EU and not seek any agreements with it.

Another 3 per cent think the Government should maintain the current relationship but not sign up to any more changes, and 2 per cent favour further integration with the EU while keeping the pound. Only 1 per cent want to join the euro and hand tax and spending powers to the European Parliament.

By a huge margin of 92 per cent to 5 per cent, Conservative members believe Mr Cameron was right to veto the treaty and 70 per cent regard it as his best moment since becoming Prime Minister. More than half (52 per cent) think it was as big a moment as Margaret Thatcher winning the rebate on Britain's EU contributions in 1984.

A majority (54 per cent) regard the veto as the start of Britain becoming "more detached" from the EU. Nine out of 10 believe Britain should look to trade freely with the emerging economies and worry less about Europe.

Only 15 per cent of Tory members share Liberal Democrat concerns that there are dangers in being outside the EU's inner group. Seven out of 10 think the veto has made the Liberal Democrats very unhappy and likely to be less co-operative coalition partners.

According to ConservativeHome, Mr Cameron's tough stance in Brussels has significantly boosted his standing among Conservative activists. His net satisfaction rating – the difference between the number satisfied and dissatisfied with his performance – has jumped from +45 points to +64 points since the summit. Last month he stood in eighth place in the Cabinet's popularity rankings but has now risen to third, behind Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary.

Nick Clegg, who publicly criticised Mr Cameron's actions at the summit, has seen his net rating among Tory members slump from -2 points to -52 points in the past month. Despite George Osborne's gloomy Autumn Statement in November, his net rating has risen from +35 points to +45 points.

However, the poll suggests that Tory members are not convinced that Mr Cameron is "one of us". Asked which politicians come closest to their own politics, Baroness Thatcher tops the list, with Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, in second place, followed by Ronald Reagan, the former US President; William Hague, the Foreign Secretary; Lord Tebbit, the former Tory chairman; David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary. Mr Cameron trails behind them.

More Tory members would like Mr Johnson (34 per cent) to succeed Mr Cameron as party leader rather than Mr Osborne (13 per cent). Mr Hague (27 per cent) and Mr Gove (18 per cent) are ahead of Mr Osborne in the leadership stakes. By a margin of 55 per cent to 36 per cent, Tory activists oppose the Coalition's plans, backed by Mr Cameron, to change the law to allow gay people to marry.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Business Project Manager

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager job vaca...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor