Harman reverses Labour’s opposition to an EU referendum

24th May, 2015 10:14 am

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Labour will support and vote for an in/out EU referendum when it is brought to the House of Commons, acting leader Harriet Harman has announced today.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, Harman said that the Tories will be able to pass a referendum bill with their majority regardless of what Labour do, and that it is more important not to get hung up on the argument around the process and start discussing the substance. She says that the referendum should not take place on the same day as any other elections (such as next year’s Scottish and Welsh elections) because of the important constitutional nature of the vote.

Announcing the new position in a joint article in today’s Sunday Times (£), Harriet Harman and Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn wrote:

“We have now had a general election and reflected on the conversations we had on doorsteps throughout the country. The British people want to have a say on the UK’s membership of the EU. Labour will therefore now support the EU referendum bill when it comes before the Commons. Together with all of those who believe in the benefits and opportunities that the EU brings, we will make the case for our continued membership.

Under Miliband, Labour had consistently opposed a referendum on Europe, despite pressure to back one. It is understood that within the Shadow Cabinet, Benn has long been one of the major proponents of supporting a referendum.

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