Is winning the next election more important to the Conservatives than keeping Britain in the EU?

Here is a real, momentous decision facing Prime Minister Cameron. He can have either of the above alternatives, but not both.

If the Conservative manifesto contained two commitments:

  1. To hold a referendum on EU membership by May 2016 and to campaign for Britain’s leaving (i.e. for Brexit).
  2. On election as a new government immediately introduce a system of job permits for EU nationals in line with those currently in place for Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders (which would be necessary anyway in the event of Brexit).

Then the Conservatives would win[1].

As it is, with UKIP in effect offering both 1 and 2, and the electoral boundaries giving the Lib-Labour parties anything up to a 30 seats advantage, the Conservatives at best can only obtain enough seats to form a coalition with the LibDems again, given that UKIP has ruled out such a move.  UKIP may not in any event obtain more than a handful of seats, even though [in the absence of Conservative commitments 1 and 2] they are likely to outpoll the LibDems by 2 or more times.

[1] This assumes that enough former Conservative voters are prepared to forgive Cameron for his Same Sex Marriage Act, in order to secure 1 and 2.

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