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In 1997, the party gained a Member of Parliament (MP) for two weeks when George Gardiner, the MP for Reigate, defected to it from the Conservatives shortly before that year's general election.In the build-up to the 1997 general election, the Referendum Party spent more on press advertising than either the incumbent Conservatives or their main rival, the Labour Party.Following the election, psephologists argued that the impact of the Referendum Party deprived Conservative candidates of victory in somewhere between four and sixteen parliamentary seats.In the months following the election, the party renamed itself the Referendum Movement.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.
Many felt that the event had been a public relations exercise rather than a concerted effort to train candidates.
We the rabble army, we in the Referendum Party, we will strive with all our strength to obtain for the people of these islands the right to decide whether or not Britain should remain a nation." Similarly, the political scientists Neil Carter, Mark Evans, Keith Alderman, and Simon Gorham described it as a "single-issue movement" that had attributes of both a political party and a pressure group.
The referendum question which the party proposed was announced on 28 November 1996: "Do you want the United Kingdom to be part of a federal Europe or do you want the United Kingdom to return to an association of sovereign nations that are part of a common trading market?
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).