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.

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Comments

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.

Barry Davies's picture

David Smith your racist comments regarding British people are reprehensible, and have no foundation in reality, other than the unemployable in Britain which is the people who can not work, but have been found fit to work by French IT company ATOS and therefore have had all means of support removed because esa work related is restricted to 12 months, not the three years claimed by Cameron, another blatant lie, and as they can't work they can't claim jobseekers allowance hence the unemployment figures drop.

The massive unfettered influx of foreigners form eussr nations has not added to the nation because the vast majority are not qualified, and are only serving to drive down the lowest incomes, the minimum wage is below the living wage so these people are like everyone else on minimum wage claiming the benefits that you get for working, more benefits expense is due to the employed than the unemployed, according to the governments own figures. The idea that someone would want to live on £70.00 a week rather than work is pure government propaganda to cover up the misery being inflicted on the poor the needy the incapacitated and the disabled by this government, but then as some people know this is the group that the germans attacked before they started on the Jews and Gypsies.

A Londoner's picture

@David Smith
It seems to me that the UK has major problems including welfare dependency. However, if you want work to pay there have to be jobs to direct the unemployed to and that is undermined by the ready access to cheap EU labour.

I accept that it would be better from an employers point of view to retain access to EU labour but a society is more than a set of labour markets. It has to involve solidarity and loyalty if you want to maintain a liberal nation state.

The groups of English and British people I have in mind may not be particularly loveable. They are dismissed by some as "chavs" and by you as "unemployable". However, they are my tribe and I feel an obligation towards them.

David Smith's picture

@Barry Davies: You love throwing the school yard insults, especially at anyone not British or those who don't share your own racist views, sorry but you call me racist but you really should look long and hard at yourself in the bathroom mirror - you don't want debate, you want to rant, come back when you grow out of the school yard insults... Oh and just what the hell does ATOS have to do with the price of fish and this article...oh sorry...forgot the EU is to blame, what ever the problem, all articles what ever the issue are ripe for a UKIP style rant, especially for people who couldn't be bothered to attend school.

David Smith's picture

@A Londoner: What cheap labour, and even if these "european migrants" are being paid less than the law states (which, if the case, can be stopped by the courts) why won't those native unemployed British who sit at home, claiming their JSA and complaining that there is no work, not do this work, funny how the migrants find work, but then perhaps these migrants actually want to work (meaning that not only do they find work but actually bother turning up for their shift). Perhaps the real problem is that the UK is simply to soft on those who are fit-and-able but simply do not want to work - let's face it - even if an adult works for £3 per hour (rather than the legal £6.31 ph) they will still take home more than twice that of the JSA per-week and almost certainly qualify for in-work benefits and most likely not need to pay income tax either. The word that sums all this anti european migrant feeling up is "Scapegoat", finding someone to blame for our own ills, and those cabbages and widgets still need to be harvested/made, if the unemployed British won't do the work then you can't complain when owners and managers get economic migrants to do it - or should the UK Plc. simply shut up shop?...

David Smith's picture

@Barry Davies: Oh and Barry, you might be to young to remember this and not be to hot on your UK domestic economic history but the same rants about "migrants taking all the jobs" were being made buy the work-shy (and some who were simply to posh to push a broom) way back in the 1950s through to the mid 1970s -when the race relations laws started to put a stop to it- long before the UK joined the EEC or there was EU wide freedoms of movement of goods, services and people.

A Londoner's picture

@David Smith
I accept many of your points - there needs to be much more conditionality in the benefits system, more encouragement for the unemployed to move etc, better education and training.

However, British migration policy should be determined by an overall assessment of the costs and benefits to the UK including the long term costs to the exchequer, the need to provide additional infrastructure and the impact on social cohesion etc etc.

Allowing employers carte blanche to import cheap labour irrespective of the wider impacts is very foolish particularly when that labour is effectively subsidised by the tax payer through in work benefits.

Barry Davies's picture

David smith you are an anti British racist, you are the one who claimed that immigrants are taking all the jobs because the British are to idle to work, i.e. repeating tory propaganda, just remember it is their claims that everyone on benefits can work that has lead to an anti disabled culture similar to that of 30's germany.

I am very well educated, but the removal of my benefits has not encouraged me to have a miraculous recovery from my disability which occurred after 32 years without having a single day off sick, now I am treated like scum by people such as yourself, because you believe the BS from the government, and denied any help whatsoever, meanwhile someone can come here from europe and get housing benefit, I own my home outright, and jobseekers allowance, I can't claim that because I can't work, get free health care paid out of taxes which people like me have paid for years, child allowance for children not in the country etc. So your disgusting childish ill considered remarks mark you out as an idiot with no knowledge of the horrific circumstances being imposed by IDS and Hunt on the orders of cameron on the people of this nation. I bet you wouldn't have an idea of what a food bank is.

Barry Davies's picture

A londoner the minimum wage is lower than the living wage, therefore people who are working can claim benefits to top it up, the tax payers are subsidising large companies workforce by this means. There are business' who will not employ British people so that the workforce have the same language and can talk to each other.

David Smith's picture

@Barry Davies: As I've said, when you've grown out of the silly school yard rants and chants you post here you might then have cause to criticise others, only you are calling others "Dear Frau Merkel" etc, a very clear reference to pre 1945 and the Third Reich. Go buy yourself a mirror and history book on the 20th Century, then take a very close look at your own attitudes (and those you seem to associate with...).

David Smith's picture

@A Londoner: You really think that employers would go to all the expense of "importing" migrants if there were UK citizens prepared to a). do the work and b). at the economically viable pay rate (assuming that there are hordes of employers paying less than the minimum wage, and thus risking prosecution for both using illegal migrants and paying illegally low wages)?

Barry Davies's picture

Oh Dear David still have to use petty childish insults because you have no cogent argument, you even tried to say that UKIP the only party that has consistently called for a referendum of being scared of having one, which cast doubts on your knowledge of the subject matter. I wonder where you get the idea that companies are importing foreign labour, it is coming here unfettered from east and south european countries, mainly y the ones with the euro because their economies are rubbish and they can get free money here without working, or are all those Buskers and beggars from those nations filling jobs that Brits won't do?

David Smith's picture

Oh dear Barry, talk about the pots calling the kettles black. What do you not understand, if there is a referendum and it goes against UKIP the party will be irrelevant, it will be about as relevant as a ashtray on a motorcycle, that is why the last thing UKIP actually want is the referendum - that is not to say they want a unilateral Brit-exit. For all your supposed education Barry you are not the brightest spark, politics (and the necessary reading between the lines) is not really your thing - hence why you come out with silly sound-bites and the need to construct straw men to be your fall guys, and lets not let the facts get in the way of the anti EU rants. Oh and you appear to know less about (southern) Europe than Genghis Khan did! 2014/15 is do or die for UKIP...

Mukkinese's picture

Oh look a rumour from an "unnamed source" turns out to be completely wrong...