By Matthew Barrett
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4pm update: People's Pledge sources tells me that Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot has come out in support of a referendum.
Mike Freer, the MP for Finchley and Golders Green, has also backed a referendum. This is significant because Freer was not one of the 81 rebels, but has now come round to the view that Britain should have an in/out European referendum.
These two new additions to the list of MPs supporting the People's Pledge means 68 MPs – from several parties – back a referendum.
Following on from their successful referendum campaign in Thurrock – turnout was higher than in the recent local elections – The People's Pledge campaign have announced further referendums, to be held in 3 contiguous seats. The campaign has announced a shortlist of 39 seats, grouped in 13 contiguous triples, from different regions, from which one triplet will be chosen in the next few days, with a polling date set for late July.
The seats are:
Ian McKenzie, Director of the People’s Pledge, said:
“The People’s Pledge is proving that the right issue does energise people. In our local Thurrock ballot last month, 30.4% of people voted by nine to one to agree with a referendum. Turnout in the local council elections just one month later was 5% lower. Escalating the campaign to three constituencies at once will give us more traction at Westminster where there are clear signs that the main parties are at last starting to take their heads out of the sand.”
In the Thurrock referendum, nearly 48,000 ballot papers were issued to local residents. 14,590 ballot papers were returned (by post, text or email). The percentage who said they wanted an in/out vote on Britain's relationship with the European Union was a massive 89.9%. Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, Mark Reckless added:
“I campaigned for an In/Out EU referendum during my election in 2010 and have continued that fight in Parliament. The question is not if but when a referendum will be held, since there is a growing mood in the country for one. I am only sorry that the People's Pledge hasn't included my constituency of Rochester and Strood amongst those where a referendum might be held.”