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Ed Miliband rules out EU referendum

11 March 2014

Why is Ed Miliband going to rule out a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in a speech tomorrow? The Labour leader has written in the FT that he would legislate for a new referendum lock which would force an In/Out referendum if there was another transfer of British power to Brussels, which essentially means he supports the current situation under the Coalition. And he says in the piece that the transfer is unlikely in the next Parliament. Which means no referendum.

He writes that Labour’s position on Europe…

“… is clear and principled: we strongly believe Britain’s future is in the EU. And my priorities for government after the next election are very different from those of the Conservatives. Labour will focus on dealing with the cost of living crisis by building a better economy so that people can look forward to a better future for their children. An arbitrary timetable for a referendum on leaving Europe would damage our ability to deliver on these priorities…

The next Labour government will legislate for a new lock: there would be no transfer of powers from the UK to the EU without a referendum on our continued membership of the EU.

This would not just be a referendum on the narrow question of whether to allow a transfer of powers from Britain to Brussels; as we have seen in other countries, such votes are too easily ignored. This position, setting out the conditions in the next parliament under which a Labour government would hold an in/out referendum, offers the British people a clear choice at the next election.

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And that choice is between

a divided and ungovernable Conservative party that threatens to inflict huge uncertainty on business and undermine Britain’s influence abroad – a party increasingly arguing for exit from Europe.


a One Nation Labour party that will govern in the national interest and focus on what is best for Britain – a party that will work within Europe to deliver real change.

Deciding not to hold a referendum – unless Britain cedes more powers – at least means that if Miliband does find himself in government after 2015, he won’t have to contend with what he feared: that Britain could leave the EU under his premiership.

But while the Conservatives will be thrilled that this means that they really can say that only they will #LetBritainDecide, they shouldn’t be too reassured by Miliband’s decision. It suggests that he doesn’t think this pledge would swing it in 2015; that he can win without it. And that suggests that he’s confident about the election.

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Show comments
  • Golben Amduke

    If there is a Yes vote in September is it not at least arguable that that General Election should be fought on the new dispensation without Scottish seats? Probably not but interested in views.

  • Tom Tom

    Miliband states No Referendum which is more ‘cast-iron’ than Dave Cameron can manage

    • Alexsandr

      non of liblabcon want a referendum, because they know we will vote to leave.

    • HookesLaw

      Usual gibberish. Tory referendum policy was quite clear – the treaty was signed and ratifies by Brown, the tories voted against it – and the only one lying about it is you and the rest of the nuitjobs.

  • Kitty MLB

    Milipede has backed the EU at the same time as making sure the conditions
    for a referendum never occur- The EU will not support real change and his old
    chestnut of ” when there is more power seceded to the EU ” is nothing but white noise.
    Cameron is clearly the only one who has offered a referendum in 2017 and
    he cannot as well as will not back out regardless of his original motives.
    ” Labour will focus on the cost of living crisis,
    building a better future for our children” The utter shamefaced hypocrisy.
    We have a global cost of living crisis, for us its also due to being linked with the dying
    elephant of the EU. Also our children and grandchildren will be paying for decades
    the price of Labours country destroying rampage.

  • Tony_E

    He can win without it (and EU vote) very easily – in fact it shows that he thinks that he doesn’t need to do very much else to be PM. He knows that the Conservatives cannot win under the current boundaries and therefore he will win by default. It’s now about making life simpler post 2015, getting rid of potential headaches.

    But it’s also an insurance policy against Scottish independence. He can guarantee Lib Dem support in the event of Scots independence leading to a hung parliament, simply because they will want to remain in government. Whatever way, the constant drip drip of anti government (really anti Tory, anti toff) nonsense coming from every corner of the media, arts, education, charities sector and especially the BBC, has set the agenda for years. Tories don’t win, Labour loses when it has totally lost its way and its own voters don’t turn out. Otherwise they are nailed on simply because they have control of the message.

    But with that machine, Miliband is foolish (if of course he really believes in the EU). Because an in out referendum held under a Labour government would be won for in – and that would be the end of it. But he’s so hung up on dividing the Tories, a political force that the Labour/State machine has already broken, that he wants to keep the issue live for as long as possible. He is driven by hatred of Tories, like his predecessor, and that is one reason why he will be a terrible PM.

    • southerner

      I wouldn’t disagree with much of that save for the analysis that it is the useless Labour party and what you describe as the “State Machine” that has broken the Tory party.

      The reason the un-conservatives led by the Camerluvvies are “broken” and will never win a majority is because they are, well, un-conservative and part of the same left wing, pro-European, pro-immigration professional political elite so despised by true conservatives.

      • Tony_E

        I think they were forced there by the continual creep of the liberal left establishment who changed the terms of debate through the schools, and universities, thereby over three generations packing the arts, media and civil service with people cast in their own mould.

        I really believe that they have achieved the Gramscian shift that they set out to enable, and returning the country to the ‘c’onservative country it once was is now almost impossible.

  • Lady Magdalene

    Because he expects to “win” the next General Election with a majority.
    And The British Establishment plus the Bilderberg Committee won’t permit him to hold an EU Referendum; certainly not one on the timescale Mr Cameron proposed because, as Dr North has explained several times, there is no possibility of negotiation “reform” of the EU by 2017 and getting another “reforming” Treaty through the EU by that date.
    Meanwhile …. drip, drip, drip …. powers will continue to be transferred to the EU surreptitiously, under the radar, until we are a mere province in the United States of Europe which they have been steadily building for 60 years.
    The British Establishment have betrayed their own people for over half a century.

    • HookesLaw

      Ah – Bilderberg. What a numpty you are. What a pathetic hysterical load of nonesense.

      • Colonel Mustard

        “Dig into the mire, and rather strangely, we find Cameron connected to a range of socialist organisations. These include Common Purpose and the Young Foundation. The connection between the two is ex Demos Geoff Mulgan, who operated Demos as a pro-labour think tank for the benefit of Tony Blair. Mulgan also directs the Young Foundation and is an old Demos friend of the Chief Executive of Common Purpose, Julia Middleton. Just how is it that a (supposedly) right wing conservative like Cameron can mix with socialist elitest think tanks?”

        Because Cameron, Miliband and Clegg all lean towards the same wonkish, privileged socialist elite as an unelected, unaccountable governing body for the English.

  • David Prentice

    Yeah, wouldn’t dare give the people a say, eh Ed? Come the revolution.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “This would not just be a referendum on the narrow question of whether to allow a transfer of powers from Britain to Brussels; as we have seen in other countries, such votes are too easily ignored.”

    What he really means is:

    “… as we have seen in other countries, such votes can too easily go the wrong way.”

    So instead of asking the Irish whether they wanted the treaty changes embodied in the Lisbon Treaty, and getting the answer “no”, and then having to bully them into saying “yes” in a second referendum, Miliband would have thought it better to have got the bullying in right at the start by arbitrarily turning a referendum on treaty changes into an “in-out” referendum.

  • Smithersjones2013

    a One Nation Labour party that will govern in the national interest and
    focus on what is best for Britain – a party that will work within Europe
    to deliver real change.

    Yeah right that’s the same Labour Party that is pretty much dead in most of the south and who through their malevolent bigotry has ensured that the country is divided along race, gender, age and class lines so irrevocably.

    Normally it takes two years or so of government before a party leader becomes deranged and deluded but it seems in Miliband’s case the delerium has already set in even before entering Downing Street. This is going to be one unpopular government!

    Labour offers nothing but malevolence……

    • HookesLaw

      Why does Labour need new legislation? It can only be to water down the present legislation.

      And as for – ‘Labour will focus on dealing with the cost of living crisis by building a better economy’ … this is a load of mumbo jumbo which really means labour will fiddle with the economy, tax the wealth earners and undo all the govt reforms.

      Meanwhile the nutjobs want to split the right wing vote and secure the election of an even more Europhile labour govt than it was last week.

      • Conway

        Why does Labour need new legislation?” Labour seems to be addicted to legislation – just think how many laws it passed last time it was let anywhere near the levers of power.

  • Tim Reed

    “Why is Ed Miliband going to rule out a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in a speech tomorrow?”

    He answers that question in the very fisrt line of the quote…

    “…we strongly believe Britain’s future is in the EU.”

    Lockstep with the other two main parties.

  • Colonel Mustard

    A “one nation Labour party” that brought about devolution and the risk of the United Kingdom breaking up, a disparity in student fees for British “one nation” students depending where they live and the risk of serious sectarian or religious conflict from their reckless and malevolent immigration “policies”.

    One nation my a**e.

    • Shazza

      Colonel – I agree with Ed. Under him we definitely will be become ‘one nation’.
      Britain will become an islamic nation. Guaranteed.

      • telemachus

        This is not a thread for you to peddle your Islamophobic views
        Please revise the post

        • Fergus Pickering

          He can peddle his Islamophobe views wherever he likes. Who are you to make the rules, tele?

          • telemachus

            No Fergus
            This is a blog for serious political debate, not incitement

            • Colonel Mustard

              Then the question must be asked why you comment here because I cannot think of a definition of ‘serious political debate’ further from the simplistic, trite, tribal, inane bordering on insane propaganda you incessantly post here for the Labour party.

              Or maybe you think braying about winning an election that has not taken place yet and constantly attributing charisma to the most boring politicians in Westminster is ‘serious political debate’?

              You muppet.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Who are you to say what it is for?

        • Colonel Mustard

          This is not a thread for you to peddle your leftofascist views
          Please revise the posts

        • Alexsandr

          get your dictionary out and look up phobia

          A phobia (from the Greek: φόβος, Phóbos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is, when used in the context of clinical psychology, a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational. (That from wiki)

          Fear of Islam is totally rational. They have jihad, they believe in slaying infidels, they believe in FGM. and they want to take over our state slice by slice. Look at what is happening in Birmingham schools.
          So Shazza’s comment is not phobic, but shows a real fear.
          tellytwit inaccurate again.

          • Shazza

            Thank you. While tellytwit is doing some homework, maybe he should look up the meaning of ‘dhimmi’ – he is a prime example of successful islamic brainwashing.

          • HookesLaw

            ‘they’? who is ‘they’.

            You clearly have so many phobias that its difficult to count them.

            • Alexsandr

              they = islamists.
              simples :)

        • Shazza

          There is no such thing as islamophobia, only islamorealism.

          Islamophobia is a Muslim Brotherhood construct developed in the ’90s to shut down any criticism of this colonising, authoritarian, Dark Ages ideology.

          Look it up.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Neither is it a thread for pressing the fascist Labour party agenda.

          • telemachus

            Every opportunity must be taken

      • Kitty MLB

        Yes we will become one nation, fully ingrained within the EU,
        we shall completely lose whatever fragments of our identity we have left.
        We already know Labour deplores England, our history culture and values. When for god sake is this country going to say the words
        of Chesterton ‘ we are England and have not spoken yet’.

        • Shazza

          So very, very true, Kitty.

        • telemachus

          ‘we are England and have not spoken yet’
          But dear Kitty England will speak in May 2015 and it will not be the speech of the little engenders that you show alarming signs of joining
          You are far too intelligent for that

          • Colonel Mustard

            We’ll see, you patronising git. It might be people living in England speaking but don’t kid yourself it will be the English speaking.

            • telemachus


              • Colonel Mustard

                You do seem to be. You trail my comments like a little red lapdog, snapping and yapping.

                Or as Blair never said:- “Nicholas, Nicholas, Nicholas”


                • telemachus


                • Colonel Mustard

                  Yes, you are that too.

      • Conway

        We shall be no nation at all – the EU has pledged to eradicate the evil of nation states. That is not to say we shall not be part of the caliphate.

        • Shazza


  • Peter Stroud

    Jam tomorrow, typical, idiotic. Miliband.

  • Radford_NG

    Miliband shoots Farage’s fox…and misses.Report says UKIP support comes from working class and those left behind. (Source;Radio 4,minster Hour;Sunday 9 Mch.)

    I would say from those betrayed by Heseltine when Thatcher was ousted.

  • Mynydd

    The headline “Ed Miliband rules out EU referendum” is wrong. Mr Miliband has not ruled out an EU referendum, but outlined the conditions under which he would call for an in / out referendum.

    • Colonel Mustard

      We don’t want your stinking conditions. We just want a referendum.

      • Mynydd

        My comment was that Isabel Hardman had drawn the wrong conclusion from Mr Miliband’s statement, in that, he has not ruled out a referendum. I made no remarks in respect to the conditions he would apply. By the way it should be ‘I don’t want’ not ‘we don’t want. You can only speak for yourself, and not for the whole world.

        • Alexsandr

          he has not ruled out a referendum, but put such a massive caveat on it its the same thing.
          Means he can get contradicting headlines in the papers today.
          what a 2 faced tw@t

          • Conway

            Exactly. It’s like the union reforms. When there was murmuring against them, he could point to the small print and say “well, actually …”.

        • Colonel Mustard

          “You can only speak for yourself, and not for the whole world.”

          Tell your cell leader telemachus that. Besides, I was speaking not just for myself but for my wife, children and grandchildren, brother, sisters and many friends. So ‘we’ perfectly appropriate. ‘We’ all detest the EU almost as much as ‘we’ detest Labour and the Red Donkey ‘leading’ it if not more.

          “I made no remarks in respect to the conditions he would apply.”

          You quoted Miliband specifying conditions in a comment challenging the headline. My response perfectly appropriate and you are clearly ignorant of the cultural reference.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          idiot. He has said we can have a referendum only if a further significant transfer of powers to Brussels is tabled by the EU. Were such a proposal made by the EU this amoral, dishonest piece of left-wing scum would claim it was no such thing and that a referendum was not required. Rather like that other piece of scum Brown before Lisbon. Labour the party of lies, lying and liars.

    • Wessex Man

      oh em, there’s a relief then!

    • HookesLaw

      An they are not going to enforce a referendum as the conservatives would be actively seeking changes.

  • Machina22

    “A party that will work within Europe to deliver real change.”

    He’s either deluded or just lying. How many decades must mainstream politicians keep repeating this mantra to themselves before they accept that ‘reform from within’ is a load of rubbish and will never happen?

    • Tim Reed

      “A party that will work within Europe to deliver real change.”

      A statement that could have come from any of the three leaders of the main parties. They’re interchangeable on the EU.

      • Machina22

        I completely agree.

    • telemachus

      Maggie managed it
      The problem is that without commitment to Europe the big players will not take us seriously
      We have a major chance now that Germany’s interests are more closely allied with ours and the French are demonstrably weak
      The Statesman like comments of Ed are a major leap forward that will help renegotiation when Labour regain Government next May
      I am looking forward to hearing Mandelson on this imminently on Today

      • telemachus

        Listen to Mandelson on iPlayer 0710:
        Leadership and guts on a major issue
        Judgement and courage
        Will strengthen him and help him win the election
        Strong leadership
        Referendum not a deciding issue in voting
        Cameron referendum irresponsible because of business uncertainty and has not stopped UKIP
        Need to vote Labour to keep the economy on track

        • Maurice_Gosfield

          >Need to vote Labour to keep the economy on track<

          Finally, an admission that the economy is on track and that Osborne's policies are the right ones, having worked?

      • saffrin

        Labour are evil.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Maggie managed it and Labour, the party of lies, lying and liars, gave it away. In essence: I promise to give up part of our rebate today in exchange for some vague words about reform in the future. You could not make it up but Labour the party of lies, lying and liars did just that.

        • telemachus

          Protest as you will
          Ed has just clinched the election

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            For the group of amoral, unprincipled fascist scum that constitutes the Labour Party. You could not make it up.

          • David B

            Last year you were claiming he was going call for an in/out referendum on the same day as the Euro election! We told you that would never happen, we were right, you were wrong!

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Lying I suspect. It is what the Labour party does.

    • Count Dooku

      Will you be voting Conservative then?

  • London Calling

    A huge mistake by Ed if that’s what he wants…………Once the British people are educated on the perils of the EU and their infringement on our democrasy the more they will be inclined to vote on a referendum to leave the EU……….ignorance is not bliss……………..:)

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers


  • Liberty

    EM is probably calculating that people do not care about the EU enough. But that is because they do not know how much the EU is our goverment now. External trade, immigration, environmental and energy policy, fisheries, agriculture and much, much more. Nor do they know enough about the corruption, waste, incompetence and virtually tax free work in the EU at their expense. They will know all this when the debate on this divide between the parties happens before the 2015 GE.

    • vfr100

      You are right about the public not knowing but I’m curious as to who you think will tell the public, bearing in mind none of the three main parties ever admit the involvement of the EU in anything – carbon targets and energy, horsemeat scandal, land management that leads to floods, free movement of capital which leads to big companies declaring very little tax in this country etc.
      the main stream media certainly won’t, especially the bbc which has benefited from around £20 million in EU grants, and hid the bulk of that from the Spectator.

      • telemachus

        No one should tell these lies to the public

        • Colonel Mustard

          Don’t do it then.

    • HookesLaw

      And nutjob even if we were out of the EU we would still be complying with most of that as part of being in the EEA and the single market. Many of the things you talk about are all; part of being in a comprehensive trade agreement.

      • starfish

        Sorry. Forty odd years inside the EU tells us that we have no voice ( has anybody ever taken our views into account )and the UK is widely seen as a source of money for the rest of Europe. So I dont see how it can be worse outside

  • Nick Dines

    Probably because he recognises that most British people don’t really care about Europe and it is way down the list of their concerns. Let UKIP and the Tories continue to squabble over this issue and consequently he looks moderate, therefore winning the centre ground and giving himself a better chance of winning the election.

    • Makroon

      You are kidding.
      It’s just another opportunistic little stunt from the party of stunts, probably designed to win over LibDems.

    • Liberty

      People do not care about the EU because they do not know how much the EU is our goverment now. External trade, immigration, environmental and energy policy, fisheries, agriculture and much, much more. The Better Out people will be making this all far more clear come the referendum if the Tories win in 2015.

    • chudsmania

      More people care about it than you realise. The EU tentacles now affects every aspect of our lives , and sometimes not in a good way. The EU as it is now is not what our parents/grandparents voted for back in the early 70’s. Its time to have this referendum and put this issue to bed , once and for all.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Tripe. Since 2010 opinion polls have favoured a British withdrawal, with opposition (to the EU) peaking in November 2012 at 56% compared to 30% who wanted to remain.

      Lets see your evidence for “most people”.

  • realfish

    ‘(Miliband) would legislate for a new referendum lock which would force an In/Out referendum if there was another transfer of British power to Brussels.’

    In an attempt to bullshit the voters, Miliband is banking on the BBC not mentioning that that lock has already been introduced by the Tories. And guess what? Toenails on the 10′ o clock news, reports on Miliband’s proposal to legislate…without mentioning that that lock has already been introduced by the Tories.

  • Hello

    A reaction to Clegg’s positioning? If Miliband is pursuing this 35% strategy, then any LibDem recovery is a serious threat to his prospects. It would also be good momentum for Miliband if Labour come top in the EU elections, and that’s certainly within their grasp.

    • AnotherDave

      I wondered that. Does this kill the LD’s “party of in” mojo?

      • Hello

        I imagine so. Can’t see why you’d vote LD to keep the UK in anymore, you risk exit if you vote LD because you’re risking a ConLib coalition.

        • Wessex Man

          or indeed a CON/Lib/dum/Lab whitewash! are we allowed to say whitewash nowadays?

  • Thepnr

    He’s doing it in a last desperate attempt to hold onto 41 Scottish Labour MP’s which he will lose if Scotland votes Yes. Their canvassing must be telling them something.

    • Mynydd

      That’s why Mr Cameron is doing everything in his power to get Scotland to vote yes.

      • Wessex Man

        er, what? are you seriously saying that Cameron wants to hang to the 41 Labour Scottish MPs that come to Westminster , live a lovely life vote on English matters that they can’t vote on in Scotland, their homeland?

        Do you know something we don’t? are the Tories and Labour going to amalgamate after the next election? Or are you just thick?

        • telemachus

          You know well sunshine that a No in the referendum will with UKIP splitting the Tory vote in the 43 Tory marginals deliver a Government of Reason next year

          • Colonel Mustard

            About as much reason as a box of frogs. And I’d prefer the frogs. At least they wouldn’t bother us all with non-stop crap laws.

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