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Referendum Party


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Referendum Party

The Referendum Party was a Eurosceptic, single-issue political party that was active in the United Kingdom from 1994 to 1997. The party's sole objective was for a referendum to be held on the nature of the UK's membership of the European Union (EU). Specifically, it called for a referendum on whether the British electorate wanted to be part of a federal European state or to revert to being a sovereign nation that was part of a European free-trade bloc without wider political functions.

The party was founded by the Anglo-French multi-millionaire businessman and politician James Goldsmith in November 1994. A Eurosceptic who had previously had close links to the UK's governing Conservative Party, he was also an elected Member of the European Parliament for the Movement for France party. He used his financial resources and contacts to promote the new venture, in which he was assisted by other former Conservatives. The party's structure was centralised and hierarchical, giving Goldsmith near-total control over its operations. Although not offering party membership, it claimed to have 160,000 registered "supporters", a number that was probably an exaggeration. The party gained a Member of Parliament (MP) for two weeks in 1997, when George Gardiner, the MP for Reigate, defected to it from the Conservatives shortly before that year's general election.

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Published in 30/01/2020

Updated in 19/02/2021

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