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.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.