The four best opinion pieces on Ed Miliband’s Europe speech

Some of the most interesting comment pieces on Ed Miliband's Europe speech.

Ed Miliband has given a speech today outlining Labour’s policy on an in/out EU referendum. He said that a Labour government would hold a referendum if the EU takes back more powers from the UK, but Miliband appears to believe that this won’t happen in the next parliament.

Here are some of the most interesting comment pieces written on the back of Miliband’s speech:

1. Why Miliband is right not to promise an EU referendum – George Eaton, the New Statesman

George Eaton argues that Miliband has made the right decision by not promising an EU referendum on the Tories’ terms, because doing so would have ceded political territory to the Tories. It would also, Eaton argues, enable Cameron to portray Miliband as weak. Miliband’s speech also creates a barrier between the Tories and big business, as some large companies are concerned about the prospect of an EU withdrawal. By rejecting the siren calls for a referendum, Ed Miliband can focus on the cost of living crisis.

2. Ed (almost) rules out EU Referendum – Mehdi Hasan, Huffington Post

Mehdi Hasan highlights the confusion in some of the news coverage of Miliband’s speech, with the Financial Times proclaiming “Miliband rules out early EU poll”, while the Mirror sums up Miliband’s message as “We will give EU and in/out vote”. The reality is that Miliband has not ruled out the referendum completely, leaving open the door for one if there is an EU treaty change. Hasan argues that this is a wise move on Miliband’s part, because it is a referendum that he is likely to lose, and because not holding the referendum allows him to concentrate on fixing the economy.

3. Ed Miliband goes from uncertainty to confusion on EU referendum – Benedict Brogan, the Daily Telegraph

The Telegraph’s Benedict Brogan also mentions the conflicting headlines on Miliband’s speech, and claims that this is a reflection of Labour’s confusion on the issue. He sees it as enabling Miliband to be able to say that he has a referendum pledge in his manifesto, while also easing the concerns of those in the City who are worried about the prospect of an EU exit. It will also, Brogan argues, allow Miliband to claim that his referendum is better than the Tories’, because it is on a transfer of powers and not simply a yes/no question. However, Brogan still argues that Miliband’s position makes him look weak, on the grounds that it involves giving into threats and pandering to UKIP, albeit in a half-hearted way.

4. Ed Miliband rules out EU referendum – Isabel Hardman, the Spectator

The positive aspect of Miliband’s decision not to hold a referendum (unless the EU asks for more powers) is that, if he becomes prime minister in 2015, he will not have to face the prospect of the UK leaving the EU under his leadership. The downside is that the Tories can now claim that they are the only party which will let Britain decide on the issue of EU membership. However, Isabel Hardman believes that Miliband’s position is a sign of his confidence, because it suggests that he thinks he does not need to make a pledge on an EU referendum in order to win the election.

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One Response to “The four best opinion pieces on Ed Miliband’s Europe speech”

  1. David Lindsay

    The real news from Ed Miliband is that there will as good as certainly be nothing so much as a suggestion of the further transfer of powers to the EU if he is Prime Minister. Since Michael Foot, no major Party Leader has ever before said that, or anything remotely approaching it.

    Consistently, all of two per cent of people place the EU the top of their list of priorities. Even only 20 per cent of UKIP supporters see a referendum on EU membership as important. Cameron’s commitment is to hold one only after his imaginary renegotiation, itself following his inconceivable General Election victory.

    He and Miliband are both saying no to one. It is just that one of them is doing so on the basis that there would be no further transfer of powers. Cameron is not saying that: a renegotiation could result in anything. But there is not going to be one, because he is not going to be in office.

    Even for the European Elections, the Conservatives and UKIP remain statistically tied, 10 points behind Labour. Ten.

    The main cause now is opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which perfectly embodies everything that the Eurofederalist project has always been about, and which gives incomparable explanation to the fact that, whereas the Left has opposed that project since the 1940s, next to no one on the British Right, including Margaret Thatcher, was anything less than wildly enthusiastic about it until the perceived
    need arose to oppose John Major on absolutely any available ground for his daring to be Prime Minister while not Margaret Thatcher.

    To this day, someone like John Redwood, the intellectual guiding light who wanted Teresa Gorman and Tony Marlow in his Cabinet, could not tell you anything in particular about the EU to which he was opposed. He could have written the TTIP, just as the framers of the Treaty of Rome, of Thatcher’s Single European Act or of Major’s Maastricht Treaty, against which Redwood did not vote, could have done.

    It offers the culmination, at least to date, of the entire dream. Attempts to claim that that dream was ever about anything else are the stuff of borderline, if borderline, insanity.

    Which privatisation did the EU prevent? Which dock, factory, shipyard, steelworks or mine did it save? Well, there you are, then.

    If we needed the EU for the employment law that, since we do not have it, the EU is obviously powerless to deliver, then there would be no point or purpose to the British Labour Movement.

    Beyond fighting the TTIP every step of the way, Labour needs to commit itself, not to a referendum the result of which, as of all such, would be determined in the month leading up to it by the BBC, exactly as happened in 1975, but to primary legislation in and through the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

    First, the restoration of the supremacy of United Kingdom over EU law, and its use to give effect, both to explicit Labour policy by repatriating industrial and regional policy (whereas the Conservatives are not committed to any specific repatriation), and to what is at least
    implicit Labour policy by repatriating agricultural policy and by reclaiming our historic fishing rights in accordance with international law: 200 miles, or to the median line.

    Secondly, the requirement that, in order to have any effect in the United Kingdom, all EU law pass through both Houses of Parliament as if it had originated in one or other of them.

    Thirdly, the requirement that British Ministers adopt the show-stopping Empty Chair Policy until such time as the Council of Ministers meets in public and publishes an Official Report
    akin to Hansard.

    Fourthly, the disapplication in the United Kingdom of any ruling of the European Court of Justice or of the European Court of Human Rights unless confirmed by a resolution of the House of Commons, the High Court of Parliament.

    Fifthly, the disapplication in the United Kingdom of anything passed by the European Parliament but not by the majority of those MEPs certified as politically acceptable by one or more seat-taking members of the House of Commons, with the provision that no MEP who was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or of anything that the Speaker or the House deemed comparable, would be eligible to be so certified.

    Thus, we should no longer be subject to the legislative will of Stalinists and Trotskyists, of neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis, of members of Eastern Europe’s kleptomaniac nomenklatura, of people who believed the Provisional Army Council to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland, or of Dutch ultra-Calvinists who would not have women candidates.

    And sixthly, the giving of effect to the express will of the House of Commons, for which every Labour MP voted, that the British contribution to the EU Budget be reduced in real terms.

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