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January Report from Claude Moraes MEP

Category: News-General.
Posted: Friday 01 Feb 2013

Welcome to my first newsletter of the year. David Cameron has finally delivered his speech on the EU. I am continuing to speak and debate Labour Party policy in this newsletter and have spoken at many meetings over 2012. Please see the paragraph below giving my perspective on how I believe the Labour Party should be developing its positive left EU policy. This paragraph also sets out how Ed Miliband and the party set out its position in the last few important days on this issue. It would be great to hear your views on the EU debate, as Labour MEPs are in regular touch with the party at all levels on this issue.

Claude Moraes MEP

Labour MEP for London

You can now also follow me on twitter @ClaudeMoraesMEP

The Labour Party, Cameron, the EU, and the Referendum Debate

In his predicted speech, David Cameron set out a possible referendum date of 2017 in the event of the Conservatives winning a 2015 General Election. The Labour Party response was to stand firm in rejecting proposing a referendum at a time when doing so would promote further economic uncertainty and instability, but to understand that legislation currently standing in the House of Commons requires a UK referendum should there be a treaty change leading to a substantial shift in powers or sovereignty from the UK to the EU. While the Labour Party did not vote for this legislation, it is currently bound by it, so cannot reject a possible referendum 'forever.'

At party meetings, interviews and debates I have set out in detail why I believe that David Cameron is wrong to promise a repatriation of powers or a renegotiation which is highly unlikely to happen as it requires unanimity from member states. Even if such a renegotiation takes place, the Conservative Party identifies the social dimension, employment laws (you can read here the TUC case on what rights the Tories want to repatriate) and those areas relating to the core values of Labour in Europe as some of the key areas of renegotiation. Such a 'renegotiation' would then supposedly be brought to the British people for a vote.

However, Labour members are entitled to ask the question why the Labour Party should not also offer a simple ‘in/out referendum.’ This is a legitimate question on which Labour politicians should give a view. I believe Ed Miliband and the shadow cabinet were absolutely right to reject the opportunism of the Cameron position even though it led to what I believe may be a temporary bump in popularity. The time that this newsletter goes out, the temporary increase in polls for the Conservatives from Cameron's speech has already been wiped out.

In the long run to propose an in/out referendum on a renegotiation which potentially cannot be delivered on areas which are almost entirely within Labour's core values is a very damaging route on which to take the UK at a time of economic crisis.

It is also important to understand that the Cameron position has little to do with the wider British and EU interest, but is fixated on internal Conservative Party unity and ensuring the Conservatives deal with the UKIP marginal seat threat in the run up to the 2014 and 2015 elections. This is in contrast to the Labour Party position which concentrates on the clear concern that the massive long period to an unstable referendum question would deter inward investment and direct foreign investment based on a misguided view of renegotiation and repatriation of powers.

The period of uncertainty we are about to enter is one I’ve been debating with Labour Party members, and overwhelmingly what I have found at these meetings is that party members want to use this period to restate and renew the left case for Europe. What I tend to hear from most London Labour Party members is that the left narrative for Europe has not been made strongly enough.

Please click here for the case for Europe which I made for Europe recently to Progress Online.

A clear and balanced case for the Labour Party position on Europe and reform of the EU was made this month by Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander MP, please click here.

Read the full January newsletter here

Posted by: Admin on Friday 01 Feb 2013

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