19th Mar 2018

Labour rules out EU referendum without new treaty

  • No referendum likely under a Labour government - Miliband (Photo: Cabinet Office)

UK Labour leader Ed Miliband is to rule out an in/out referendum on EU membership before 2020 unless a new EU treaty proposal bids to transfer more power to Brussels.

The promise will be part of a speech on Wednesday (12 March) by the Labour leader, whose party holds a slight poll lead over the governing Conservatives.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

However, Miliband will hold out the prospect of an in/out referendum if a new EU treaty transferred more powers from national to EU level as part of a 'referendum lock' bill.

"It is unlikely there will be any such proposals for a transfer of powers in the next parliament, but the British people must know that the history of the EU – as well as uncertainty about precisely what a changing Europe and further integration in the eurozone might involve – means a further transfer of power remains possible," he will say.

"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," Miliband adds.

With two months to go until the European elections, at which the anti-EU Ukip party is expected to make a strong showing, Labour is anxious to avoid the charge that it is the anti-referendum party. Opinion polls indicate that an 'in/out' referendum would be too close to call.

However, business leaders have expressed fears that the uncertainty over the UK's future in the 28-country bloc could make the country less attractive for businesses.

Labour's new position is similar to that of the Liberal Democrats, regarded by most as being the most pro-European UK party.

In January 2013 Prime minister David Cameron announced plans to re-negotiate the UK's EU membership terms followed by a referendum in 2017 if his Conservative party wins next year's general election. The Conservative party has also attempted to push through legislation guaranteeing a plebiscite by 2017 only for the bill to be rejected in January by Labour and Liberal Democrat members of the House of Lords.

Although German chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed support for re-opening the EU treaties to deepen the integration of the eighteen eurozone countries, there is little appetite in most capitals for a fresh round of treaty change just four years after the Lisbon treaty came into force.

In an article in the Financial Times, also published on Wednesday, Miliband stated that, if re-elected, Cameron's government "would be dominated by an all-consuming and damaging obsession within his party about whether Britain should leave the EU.

Cameron, for his part, tweeted that "by his own admission, Ed Miliband says it's unlikely there'll be an in/out referendum on Europe under Labour."

"Only the Conservative Party can guarantee and deliver that in/out referendum," he added.

UK referendum bid defeated

The UK's parliament has rejected a call for referendum on the new EU's Lisbon treaty, a move representing a victory for Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown which has argued in the face of bitter opposition that there should not be a public poll. Britain is now expected to ratify the treaty in parliament by summer.

Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant

Niger has temporarily stopped all evacuations from Libya detention centres under an EU funded programme because so few are being resettled to Europe. Many of those that have been evacuated are pregnant, with some asking for HIV testing.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere