Ed Miliband could announce within the next two weeks that the Labour Party are preparing to do a u-turn on Europe by pledging to hold a referendum on Britain’s continued EU membership if they win the next election, according to the Times.
According an unnamed source close to the Labour party, Ed Miliband is open to the idea of reforming Britain’s EU ties and holding a referendum on British membership, but not by 2017 as promised by David Cameron.
The paper says Miliband may seek to change the European Union’s founding treaties, and could use any proposed treaty change as an opportunity to hold the referendum.
The Labour party have so far been critical of David Cameron’s policy to hold an EU referendum in 2017, after a renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s membership. Last month, Labour peers helped kill off a bill promising such a referendum.
When asked by the Times, a party spokesman refused to confirm or deny the u-turn: “We will keep our position consistent … We have always said that any decision about a European referendum will be based on the national interests.”
Discontent about the terms of European Union membership is growing among the British public. The rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has forced party leaders to reconsider the issue and adopt a more critical line toward Brussels, with David Cameron finally committing his party to a referendum after previously resisting such calls.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said in an interview with Reuters earlier this month that Ed Miliband’s backing of a referendum would be “the single most important determinant of whether Britain leaves the European Union”.