Thursday, 16 May 2013

Europe split has more history

Ed Miliband has had much fun mocking the Tories' divisions over Europe, but his party now faces some of its own. A new group "Labour for a Referendum" will be launched with the aim of forcing Miliband to commit to holding an in / out vote on EU membership after the next election. The organisation has the support of 15 Labour MPs, including Keith Vaz [a former Europe minister] and former Northern Ireland spokesman Jim Dowd.

It is worth remembering, that it was once Labour, not the Conservatives, that was most divided over Europe. The 1975 referendum on EEC membership was called by Harold Wilson after his cabinet proved unable to agree a joint position [Wilson subsequently suspended collective ministerial responsibility and allowed ministers to campaign for either side, an option that David Cameron may well be forced to consider] and Michael Foot's support for withdrawal was one of the main causes of the SDP split in 1981.

This weeks launch is a reminder that those divisions have not entirely been consigned to history. While the Tories are now split between 'inners' and 'outers', in Labour the fundamental europhile-eurosceptic divide persists.

No comments:

Post a Comment