Conservatives organising their own unofficial referendum in Northamptonshire on whether Britain should remain in the European Union say they do not expect to announce the result until the New Year.
The localised ballot has been organised by Kettering MP Philip Hollobone, Wellingborough MP Peter Bone and Tom Pursglove, who hopes to win the Corby and East Northants constituency for the Tories at the General Election next year.
Organisers pledged to deliver ballot papers to a quarter of a million people in north Northamptonshire. They started to be distributed immediately after May’s European elections.
Original plans were for all the ballot papers to be posted to homes across the north of the county using money from private donors, but Mr Bone said a change in tactic mean the process would take longer than anticipated.
He told the Northants Telegraph: “Tom, Philip and I have decided that all the ballot papers will be delivered by our respective Listening Teams. We have found huge advantages in going out and speaking to local people about the ballot when delivering it.
“We have, so far, delivered roughly half of the ballot papers across the three constituencies. In all areas, we have had a very positive response. So, rather than rushing the job, we are taking as long as we need.
“At the moment, I would estimate that we would announce the result at the beginning of next year.”
Political opponents have dismissed the mini-referendum as little more than a publicity stunt.
Northamptonshire’s UKIP MEP Margot Parker added: “If they were serious about getting out of the EU they would belong to UKIP.
“Mr Bone said the ballot papers would now be distributed by the Conservatives’ Listening Teams, meaning no result will even be known until next year.
“Judging by the reaction we get on the doorstep we can save them time - we know people are fed of the EU and its dogma.”