Labour source tells us party position on EU referendum “has not changed”

23rd January, 2013 2:06 pm

There was some surprise when Ed Miliband said at PMQs:

“My position is no – We don’t want an in out referendum”

Many (including our editor) took that to be a change of policy from Labour, after Douglas Alexander was careful not to rule out a future referendum this morning. However a Labour source speaking to LabourList this afternoon said:

“The position has not changed. In the current circumstances it is clearly wrong to have an in/out referendum because of the massive economic uncertainty it would cause and the huge damage it would inflict on jobs and growth.”

Those are quite different in tone, but perhaps the latter brings greater clarity to Labour’s position than what may prove to have been a ‘misspeak’ from Miliband at PMQs.

  • JoeDM

    Oh dear. Do I detect a Mili-shambles.

  • If not now then when? A referendum will *always* cause economic uncertainty. Labour needs to flesh out a European policy immediately. Don’t rule out a referendum, talk about repatriation of powers, lay out a vision for how the EU should work. The current position looks like support for the status quo, which is totally unacceptable.

  • Pingback: Better Off Out’s News Breakdown: 24/01/2013 | Better Off Out()

  • Douglas Alexander made clear in his recent speech what Labour wanted to see from the EU. Reform, not withdrawal. A slimmed down and more efficient structure for the Commission and the Parliament. Fewer commissioners, though an additional commissioner to focus exclusively on economic growth. Renewed negotiations on reforming the CAP and more to be done to streamline regulations. He also called for a greater role for minister’s from member states, increasing their role in decision making within the political structures. Aiming to increase the role of domestic ministers would presumably reduce the role of MEPs, Commissioners and EU officials, at least relatively compared to the current situation. He also called for more to be done to ensure member state’s ‘red lines’ are respected and accounted for. In our case putting greater restrictions on migration from new member states.

    That does fit with Ed Miliband’s line at PMQs that we do not support a referendum, because, as Alexander has said, we believe in reform not withdrawal.

    It does seem sensible enough to say that as we don’t support the aim of the referendum (i.e. we want to stay in the EU) we don’t support having the referendum at all. That was Labour’s position in Scotland in regards to separation and the no vote is currently well ahead of the yes vote in the polls. In truth the only people who ever want a referendum are those who want to vote yes. Being on the no side logically infers you don’t want to hold a referendum in the first place. It seems entirely sensible to be straight with the public and say just that.

    Any apparent wavering is likely down to jitters about committing to a policy that could be altered by unforeseeable developments, and the political tactics revolving around the virtue or otherwise of supporting referenda in general.

    It is unfair to say Labour has no EU policy, in the last two weeks a policy has been fleshed out, even if it may need to be expanded or changed in the future. (As is the case with all sensible, workable, policy).

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