UK Labour too considers EU referendum, timing unknown


Britain's opposition Labour party is preparing to change its policy on the European Union by pledging to hold a referendum on the country's membership of the bloc at some point if it is elected in 2015, the Times newspaper reported yesterday (26 February).

Citing an unnamed source close to the Labour party, it said Labour leader Ed Miliband would seek to reform Britain's EU ties and back holding a membership referendum, but not by 2017 as Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged.

The report said Miliband was open to changing the bloc's founding treaties and would use any treaty change as an opportunity for a referendum. An announcement was expected in the next two weeks, the article said.

If an election was held today polls suggest Labour would win since they enjoy a lead of around 5 percentage points over Cameron's Conservative party. The next national election is still 15 months away, however.

Labour has yet to publicly state whether it wants an EU referendum, but has been critical of a promise by Cameron, it re-elected, to hold an in/out vote on Britain's EU membership by the end of 2017.

If he wins the next election, Cameron has said he would try to reform Britain's EU ties before offering such a vote.

When asked about the Times report, a Labour spokesman declined to confirm or deny it.

"We will keep our position consistent ... We have always said that any decision about a European referendum will be based on the national interests," the spokesman said.

"We do not believe committing now to an in/out referendum in 2017 is in Britain's national interest."

Some opinion polls show a slim majority of Britons would vote to leave the EU if given the chance, with many frustrated at perceived interference from Brussels in domestic politics. That frustration has been reflected in the growing support in polls for the anti-EU UK Independence party (UKIP).

In an interview with Reuters earlier this month, UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Miliband's backing for a referendum on EU membership would be the "single most important determinant of whether Britain leaves the European Union" because it would dramatically increase the chances of a vote taking place.



Barry Davies's picture

Theconlablibdum party will never allow a referendum, they know it will go against what they want.

David Smith's picture

@Barry Davies: ...and UKIP are not scared that such a referendum will go against what they want?

A Londoner's picture

I suspect that the high rates of low wage EU migration into the UK must be pushing people into the withdraw camp. Our present net migration rates amount to an extra million people every five years plus any children they might have. David Cameron's much vaunted renegotiation is clearly irrelevant to the immigration issue.

The irony is that the problem is self-inflicted given that the UK has been pushing hard for EU expansion to the east. Until 2000 or so EU-UK migration flows were in balance and immigration and EU membership were separate issues but British policy has linked them and made withdrawal that much more likely.

David Smith's picture

@A Londoner: You mean the migrants who willingly do the work those who complain about migration refuse to do, even though unemployed (or just, unemployable)?

Barry Davies's picture

Well Dear Frau Merkel kicked him in the teeth regarding his much vaunted German supported renegotiations of the eussr stranglehold on our governance. Maybe he will be wondering just how he can now say he will renegotiate before 2017 just as long as we re-elect him, not that we actually elected him anyway.

David Smith's picture

@Barry Davies: Sorry but is this an adult debate or should we all stoop to the name calling found within the "Play School" yard, your comment says far more about your own insecurities... As for the only substantive point in your comment, if there are no renegotiate before 2017 any referendum will be on the current treaty position. As I said above, the only UK political party who are truly scared of holding a referendum are UKIP (better the hanging question/doubt than an actual vote) because it could mean their whole reason for being is rejected rather than the EU, almost all other parties will simply carry on either fully within the current treaty, a modified treaty or outside of the EU but what will UKIP do if the "Out" option is rejected? After being so obnoxious towards any and all other political groups and parties I suspect that most "UKIPers" will be left in the political wilderness.

Marcel's picture

Let's have a referendum here in Netherlands too. Down with the wealth-destroying and undemocratic Eurosoviet Union (EU).

Gerry's picture

There will be a renegotiating of the treaties alright, as nearly every country has some concerns and besides, there's so much unfinished business left to attend to. But whereas the EU countries will seek the EU to become a more comprehensive, better functioning and stronger structure, the UK will seek to weaken it in order to serve its own interests first. Cameron shows this attitude all the time. And that's where things will come unstuck for the UK, their choice in the end will be to either put your shoulders under it, or just walk away. Just don't tell me what it is you want now, the time of choosing will arrive soon enough.

Barry Davies's picture

David Smith I'm sorry but to have a debate you can't just have people agreeing with your personal point of view, and pretending to have a higher moral ground is usually the manner in which people try to argue a point when they are ill informed so your "play school" jibe is exactly that.

The claim by Cameron that the germans are considering renegotiation and a return of powers to the nations has been well and truly found to be incorrect, but then as with his claim that people drank from flower vases at stafford hospital, in the tory party conference 2013, that is a lie that was proven to be so well before he repeated it and even then his lackies tried to say he was being honest, following thousands of complaints. So we know he is a liar and won't apologise for his behaviour.

The only party that are agitating for a referendum is UKIP it is in the UKIP manifesto, and it is this pressure that has lead to the old parties thinking they need to pretend they will, like labour and the constitution, hold a referendum. UKIP has no fears on this point, they have always said that is the intent of the party to give the people a vote based on facts not on propaganda which was the case in the 70's when we were blatantly lied to.

Ukip should the out option be rejected would carry on with agreeing to the free trade part of the agreement but would work to remove the unneeded power grabs and unneeded interference in national aspects, and towards actually bringing some democracy to the eussr.

The three old parties will be business as usual, accept every power grab, and let our nation become more and more unstable. None of them will give us a referendum, especially with the current three leaders.

Barry Davies's picture

Gerry Cameron is a dyed in the wool europhile, his claim that he wants a referendum was shown to be another one of his lies, when he voted against the private members bill to put it into law that it would take place, all he wants is for people to think the only way to get a referendum is to vote him into number 10 next time, he wasn't voted in this time, it is purely a political ploy which he,like blair before him has no intention of allowing.