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School of Politics and International Relations

Britain's Conservatives agree on all but one issue, but it's a big one


The Conservative Party has long been divided over Europe. Indeed, the Tories were split over Britain’s membership in the European Economic Area (the precursor to the European Union) in 1973. This division, however, is mostly limited to Europe. In fact, today’s Tory leadership contenders don’t really disagree on much else at all. Tim Bale, a Professor of Politics at Queen Mary said: “There is actually very little that separates [the leadership contenders] on the more traditional lines of political conflict.” “Being close to government and in some cases being in government means that some MPs are rather more realistic, perhaps, than some at the grassroots about the consequences of what some people see as crashing out of the EU,” Bale said, adding that the broader Tory membership “has become completely and utterly obsessed with Brexit to the point that it doesn’t really seem to care about anything else,” transforming what has otherwise been a relatively un-ideological party from “a church, and a broad church at that, into a cult.”

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