Adam Afriyie has become more well-known in this past year. He has been labelled as the Tories’ Barack Obama (mainly by his friends) and the media has stated that he was ‘being groomed to replace party leader David Cameron’. He was also included in a list of possible future party leaders by Nadine Dorries. Now, the Conservative MP for Windsor has called for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU to be held in October 2014 instead of the date the Conservatives promised in 2017. ‘I’ve had struggle with my conscience over this one’ he declared. ‘I’ll not be able to sleep at night’.
‘I don’t want to cause any trouble’ claimed Afriyie following his comments. Luckily, he hasn’t caused any trouble within the party. Instead, he has caused trouble for himself. Every time the issue of Europe is mentioned within the party, divisions quickly emerge. This time however, it has not happened. It was not long after his challenge that some of the most Eurosceptic MP’s in the Conservative Party pleaded with him to reconsider his stance. This left him alone in the party with his only vocal supporter being Labour MP Tom Watson. By doing this, Afriyie hoped to show his party that he is a leader, but instead it backfired. With no support from his own party, there is no doubt that his comments were a serious mistake.
He has always denied wanting the job of party leader saying rumours of his ambition was ‘media tittle-tattle’. With no support from the party for wanting a referendum it is probably quite re-assuring that he does not want the job. Even if he did it’s looking pretty unlikely. Conservative MP Andrew Griffiths joked about Afriyie’s ambitions when he tweeted: ‘Dear Adam Afriyie on behalf of Tory MPs in marginal seats everywhere, we know how much you want to be leader. But please! Just stop!’ By trying to be a hero for the eighty per-cent of people who want a referendum, Afriyie may have just sabotaged his own future career within the party.
If Afriyie’s challenge was successful it could have easily brought the party back into disarray over Europe. Thankfully, Cameron has united the party and for once they are agreed over one of its most key issues.