11 February 2013: The Labour Party Has Not ruled out a referendum On EU Membership
The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said the party could not afford to be painted as against letting people have their say and it would be “stupid” to rule out a referendum on Europe. He said Labour should be arguing for reform in Brussels without being against a referendum in principle.
Mr Balls’s remarks came as David Cameron today attacked Labour’s position on a future referendum. He said leader Ed Miliband could not criticise him for creating “uncertainty” – without saying if Labour was in favour of a poll or not.
Mr Balls insisted Labour had “absolutely not” ruled out a referendum. He said: “As long as we don’t allow ourselves to be caricatured as an anti-referendum party, which we’re not – we’ve absolutely not ruled out a referendum – I personally think that for now this is quite a comfortable position for us. “If we allow ourselves either to be the ‘status quo party’ on Europe, or the ‘anti-referendum party’ on Europe, then we’ve got a problem. “But I think we would be pretty stupid to allow ourselves to get into either of those positions.”
Mr Balls’s remarks appear to contradict Labour’s original position on holding a referendum. After Mr Cameron announced his plan to hold an in-out referendum by 2017, Mr Miliband said Labour’s position was: “We don’t want an in/out referendum.”
He said such a move would put “Britain through years of uncertainty and take a huge gamble with the economy”. A Labour source said it was “ridiculous” to suggest there was a difference between Mr Miliband and Mr Balls’s remarks.
The source said Labour was against announcing a referendum that would take place in four years time. The source added: “As Ed Miliband set out in his speech at the CBI in November, Labour believes our priorities should be to promote growth at home and secure influence abroad. “Both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls believe announcing an in/out referendum at the moment will not help either of these priorities.” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/eu-referendum-labour-stupid-rule-1704313
29 October 2014: Cameron rejects giving Scotland veto in EU referendum
Prime Minister David Cameron rejected on Wednesday a proposal by the Scottish National Party (SNP) that the United Kingdom should only quit the European Union after a future referendum if a majority in each of its four constituent parts vote to do so.
Cameron has promised a referendum in 2017 on Britain’s continued EU membership if his Conservative Party, which has grown increasingly Eurosceptical, wins a 2015 national election.
Incoming SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said earlier on Wednesday the United Kingdom’s EU exit should only go ahead if approved by majorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as in England, home to 85 percent of the UK population.
“We are one United Kingdom. There will be one in/out referendum (for the EU) and that will be decided on a majority of those who vote. That is how the rules should work,” Cameron told the Westminster-based UK parliament in response to Sturgeon’s proposal.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have varying degrees of autonomy but the British government in London controls foreign policy and is not legally required to consult the regional administrations over issues such as EU membership.
However, the SNP criticised the stance, saying that London’s promises of real constitutional change after Scots rejected independence were being broken. “This knee-jerk rejection by the Prime Minister to a perfectly reasonable and balanced proposal to reflect Scotland’s interests in Europe flies in the face of what he and the No campaign promised during the independence referendum,” said Pete Wishart, an SNP member of the British parliament.
Polls show that Scots, are more likely to back EU membership than the English. The SNP have said that they are not seeking another referendum on Scottish independence, but that this depends on circumstances such as continued EU membership.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said it would be wrong to force Scotland’s five million people to leave the EU against it’s own wishes. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/29/uk-britain-eu-scotland-idUKKBN0II1EV20141029
18 February 2015: UK’s Labour under pressure over EU referendum as senior official quits
Britain’s opposition Labour Party came under pressure to offer voters a membership referendum on leaving the European Union on Wednesday after a senior official quit over the issue and a major donor prepared to call for a policy U-turn.
Unlike Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour has resisted offering such a referendum in the run-up to a close May 7 national vote, arguing it would hang a “closed for business” sign over Britain and that an EU exit would be disastrous.
It has said it would only offer a referendum if it deemed there was a substantial further shift of powers from London to Brussels, something that’s neither imminent nor likely.
But some in the left-wing party, parts of which have a tradition of Euroscepticism, argue it’s undemocratic to deprive voters of a say on something polls show many feel uneasy about.
There’s also disquiet — from a tactical viewpoint less than three months before the election — that Cameron’s Conservatives are the only ones offering to renegotiate Britain’s EU ties before holding such a referendum if re-elected.
On Wednesday, a former head of Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee, said she was leaving the party and switching her support to the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) because she was “disillusioned” by its Europe stance.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, former NEC chair Harriet Yeo said she had been told many senior Labour lawmakers favoured a referendum but had been asked not to speak out. “I cannot support this approach,” she wrote. “It is time to decide whether we remain in the EU. The only party I trust to offer us that choice is UKIP.”
Her resignation came as a major Labour donor prepared to urge Ed Miliband, the party’s leader, to commit to hold a referendum. “If Ed Miliband becomes prime minister in May and renegotiates without committing to a referendum, he will inevitably weaken the UK’s bargaining position,” businessman John Mills, who donated 1.65 million pounds to Labour in 2013, will tell a conference in London.
In remarks prepared for delivery to the event on alternatives to EU membership, he will say that other EU members will be more likely to take renegotiation seriously if there’s a substantial risk of Britain leaving the EU. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/02/18/uk-britain-politics-europe-idUKKBN0LM00A20150218
10 March 2015: Brown warns against making Scottish referendum mistakes with Europe
Gordon Brown has warned that those in favour of the UK’s membership of the European Union are running the risk of losing an referendum on the issue. In an article for this morning’s Guardian, he writes that Eurosceptics are using the same tactics of the pro-independence campaign in the Scottish referendum, which was closer than many predicted.
The former Prime Minister wrote:
“A poll that started off as a contest between two patriotic visions of Scotland’s future – one inside Britain one outside – descended into a choice: are you for Scotland or against Scotland? Thousands were persuaded that a yes vote was the only way to show themselves to be patriotic Scots.
“Anti-Europeans are slowly, and with surprisingly little public acknowledgement, pulling off the same trick by framing Europe – the subject of what could be the next referendum – in the same way. What should be a choice between two patriotic futures for Britain – one as part of Europe and one outside it – is already descending into a more basic emotional choice: are you for Britain, or are you for Europe?”
It is interesting that the premise of Brown’s piece seems to be an acceptance that an EU referendum is, if not inevitable, then at least likely. This would be at odds with Labour policy, as the party is heading into the election with a firm opposition to a referendum.
Brown says that if untackled, UKIP would engender widespread feeling that “blames foreigners, targets immigrants, engenders a siege mentality against the outsider and says that Britain is barely recognisable to those who believe in it.”
He is not the first major Labour figure to lend his support and advice to the pro-EU cause; Better Together chair Alistair Darling said on announcing his retirement from the Commons that he wanted to be more active campaigning for EU membership, while Alan Johnson is understood to share similar sentiments from inside Parliament.
Brown, who is standing down from Parliament this May, argues that there is a danger of “fighting with the wrong weapons” and that a “fact-based campaign” could alienate those who already feel left behind by politics:
“Sadly we pro-Europeans are in danger of fighting with the wrong weapons: a worthy, London establishment-led corporate-financed fact-based campaign of “the great and the good”, whose commitment to Europe is admirable but whose prominence will be used by anti-Europeans to justify the allegation that Europe is for an elite who don’t understand the real Britain.”
While all of this is an intriguing intervention from the former Chancellor, it has been largely overshadowed by his belief that Britain leaving the EU would make the country like North Korea, “out in the cold with few friends, no influence, little new trade and even less new investment.” http://labourlist.org/2015/03/brown-warns-against-making-scottish-referendum-mistakes-with-europe/
31 January 2015: What are we going to do about the EU?
It would be reasonable to expect that austerity measures would be top of the 2015 GE agenda but the truth is that there is little difference between the big Westminster parties on austerity.
Sure the Conservatives are looking to claim Labour will raise the deficit with un-costed policies, but Labour also seem to be keen to show themselves as strong on the economy by denying that they will tax and spend.
Normally the parties would look for a unique selling point such as the SNP’s “Stronger for Scotland” but the Westminster parties have no substantial points of difference on key policies.
The exception being UKIP, the party that David Cameron really has to beat to win a majority, and that is why the UK General Election arguments will largely focus on the EU.
Last year Ipsos – Mori stated that 53% of Scots would vote to stay in the EU and 34% to leave, and Survation found that Scots were 5% less likely to support leaving the EU than the average for the rest of the UK.
I believe that if Labour doesn’t also offer a referendum on EU membership they won’t win outright, so I predict that regardless of who wins in May we will have an EU referendum.
That support for EU membership will rise in Scotland, especially given the SNP Government’s popularity and its full on commitment to EU membership, and that the rest of the UK will, through UKIP’s influence, move towards the exit door but it is too tight to call.
But will the Labour referendum include a veto for Scotland & Wales. If the Labour Party line is the same as the Tory and Lib/Dem Party’s will the Scottish Labour Party conform with the London labour Party or will it support the will of the Scottish electorate? http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/what-are-we-going-to-do-about-the-europeans/
Ruth Davidson – Ardent supporter of remaining in the EU Sees her future with the UK
Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson said she was strongly against a second referendum in a hastily arranged speech outside her party’s headquarters following Sturgeon’s address.
Davidson said: “I do not believe a second independence referendum will help us achieve that stability nor is it in the best interests of Scotland.
“The 1.6 million votes cast in this referendum in favour of Remain do not wipe away the two million No votes that we cast less than two years ago.
“Also, we do not address the challenges of leaving the European Union by leaving our own union of nations, our biggest market and our closest friends. I believe in Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom today as much as ever.
She added she believes the “strength, security and durability” of the United Kingdom will endure. http://stv.tv/news/politics/1358515-sturgeon-second-indyref-is-on-the-table-following-brexit/
24 June 2016: Cameron resigns (in October 2016) as Prime Minister following referendum defeat
The secretary of state for Scotland David Mundell has offered to meet the Scottish Government to discuss the country’s “next steps”. Mundell said: “David Cameron has been a great leader of my party and of our country. I was proud to be one of his first supporters during the 2005 leadership election and I have never regretted that decision for a moment. “His achievements in rescuing our economy and in social reform will stand the test of time. Today he has once again put country before self. “As the Prime Minister made clear this morning, the UK Government is absolutely committed to working closely with the Scottish Government to ensure they are fully involved in the negotiation process. The Prime Minister has already spoken to the First Minister and I have today offered to meet with the Scottish Government in Edinburgh to discuss next steps. The United Kingdom has fundamental strengths and this is a time for calmness and deliberation – not pushing other personal or political agendas.”