CAMPAIGNERS for a referendum on the European Union's controversial Lisbon Treaty claim they have overwhelming public support as MPs prepare for this week's key Commons vote.
The I Want a Referendum Campaign released the results of its own referendum across ten marginal Labour and Lib Dem constituencies, showing 88 per cent backing for putting the treaty to a vote of the public.
The government dismissed the exercise as a "gimmick", saying most supporters of the treaty had simply ignored the referendum.
But campaigners said it sent a "clear message" to MPs that the public wanted their say on the treaty.
Labour Euro-rebel Kate Hoey predicted that "a lot" of Labour and Lib Dem MPs would be prepared to defy their party leaderships and vote for a referendum on Wednesday.
The I Want a Referendum Campaign said it sent out 420,791 ballot papers based on the latest publicly available electoral roll.
At total of 152,520 – 36 per cent – were returned, of which 133,251 were in favour of a referendum.
Constituencies covered included those of Europe minister Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire), Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (Redditch), Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly (Bolton West), and Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne (Eastleigh).
Campaign chairman Derek Scott – a former economic adviser to Tony Blair – said it was a "magnificent turnout" and a "great result".
He said Labour and the Lib Dems should now honour their election manifesto promises to hold a referendum on the EU constitution, which, the campaigners say, is broadly the same as the new treaty.