Posts Tagged ‘European referendum’

There is no reason why Labour should fear EU renegotiation

30/04/2013, 07:24:45 AM

by John Mills

As a committed Labour supporter who has been immersed in the political and economic arguments over Britain’s place in the European integration project for some forty years  – from my role in overseeing JML expand its business beyond Britain to acting as Secretary of Labour Euro-Safeguards Campaign since 1975 – my views have evolved as the European Union has radically changed form.

There is a perception that the question of Europe is a settled one within the Labour party. But as the EU hurtles down the path towards federalism, I am convinced more than ever that this question still has to be subject to much soul-searching and internal review.

As the poll on the in last week’s Guardian demonstrates, trust in the European project is falling across the continent and is now at an all-time low. With the Euro tanking and southern Europe in its current malaise, it’s easy to understand why some people would prefer to be out than in, and many businesses are wondering how life could look outside the EU. Yet, with the prime minister’s speech in January, a clear process has now been put in place to get a better deal for Britain in the EU. Most people in the business world now see the UK’s best interests being served by engaging in substantial renegotiation to turn the EU into the flexible, adaptive structure it needs to become if it is to survive and thrive. To that end, I am delighted to be co-chairing the new Business for Britain campaign aimed at mobilising and better reflecting the interests and opinions of the business community in the great EU debate to secure a better deal for Britain in Europe.


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If Labour has the guts on Europe, it can derail Tory conference and David Cameron’s leadership

08/10/2012, 07:00:49 AM

by Atul Hatwal

For an opposition party, so much is out of its control. Governments do, while oppositions’ talk. Only when the government fumbles an issue does the opposition become temporarily relevant. Even bad governments eventually manage to pull themselves together, work out a policy to announce and seize back the initiative.

The issues which cannot be fixed are few and far between.

But when it comes to Tory governments, there is always Europe. On this, the political gift which keeps on giving, Labour has a unique opportunity; the party just needs the guts to take it.

David Cameron’s backbenches are already fractious. Over 100 backbenchers have voted against three line whips on issues ranging from privatisation of the forests to Lords reform to, well, Europe.

But, what has been missing is a consistent, structured shadow opposition on the backbench that marshals the discontented.  Yes there have been revolts, but each insurrection has had a different cast of central characters.

This could all change. The dog days of the 1990s, with a permanent caucus of committed Tory rebels coordinating the chaos, are just one announcement away.

It would be from Ed Miliband and simply state: the Labour party backs an in-out referendum on Europe.

The moment Labour swings behind this referendum, Cameron would be forced to follow suit. The idea that he could resist the pressure from the press and his own side is inconceivable.

From the moment Cameron caved in on this, he would be on the run. A political turning point comparable to Brown’s decision not to call an election in Autumn 2007.

The dynamic on the Tory backbenches would be transformed.

The personal animosities between the modern generation of Eurosceptics such as Douglas Carswell, and the older vintage like Bill Cash would have to be subsumed into the common unifying struggle: to secure the Conservative party for withdrawal.

David Cameron would back staying in Europe, he’s already said he would. A sizeable minority, perhaps even a majority of his own troops, would be opposed. Everything the government attempted would be viewed through the prism of the struggle on Europe.

It would mean the Tory backbenches would once again have a single rebel campaign structure with a full whipping operation and cohesive political leadership.

The conflict would be binary. All or nothing. Either the Conservative leadership would shift to the rebels’ position, or the rebels would inflict defeat after defeat on the government’s programme.


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