Labour Movement for Europe (LME) will be launching its Westminster Parliamentary Group in the Palace of Westminster today. Unfortunately I cannot make it to the launch, but I’ve put some thoughts down for all those attending:
On behalf of the LME MEP group — of which all Labour MEPs are members (no backstabbers here!) — I would like to say how pleased we are that a Westminster LME group is being established.
Labour must have its own distinctive campaign in favour of staying in the European Union, not in opposition to other pro-European campaigns, but as part of a constellation of pro-European voices, each with its own distinctive angle. We must also have our presence in the coordinating ‘Yes’ campaign.
Before we get to that stage, we will of course be confronted with Cameron’s so-called “reform agenda”. He will be treading a fine line between the trivial and the impossible, with the right wing of his party pushing him to make impossible demands. There is also a risk that he attacks the social chapter of the treaty. If he succeeds in this, it can only be through two rounds of blackmail: first of fellow EU members and then of the British electorate. Cameron will be telling fellow EU members to reorganise themselves on his terms or else risk Britain leaving. And he will then tell the UK electorate to choose between his version of Europe or no Europe, with neither a different set of reforms nor the status quo being options. But success for him in the first requires a UK exit to be credible, and success in the second requires exit to be unthinkable.
The EU has created the world’s largest market, but, crucially, it is a market with rules to protect consumers, workers and the environment. These rules need strengthening – that is our daily work in the European Parliament – but even the level of protection we have achieved is resented by the free market fundamentalists on the right of the Tory party and their allies in the print media.
We must fight to ensure that Cameron doesn’t water these down, but if he does, we must also understand one crucial thing: There are no circumstances in this regard in which we are better off out. We must not paint ourselves into a corner by silly threats to campaign for a ‘no’ vote if such-and-such a condition is not met.
The government would be well advised to jump on the bandwagon of the multiple EU reforms that are, in any case, already underway — from the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy to the better regulation agenda; from improved transparency to a deeper digital market; and much else besides. There is much to build on in the continuous reform process that is today’s Union.
LME’s Westminster launch today will also see a presentation of my ‘Doorstep EU’ App. The app includes detailed analysis of British EU media coverage, brand-new briefings on a wide range of key issues – and of course, all the latest from this blog. If you find yourself discussing European issues with those around you, if you wish you had a way to uncover the truth behind the media spin, or if you’re simply curious about the EU and Britain’s part in it, then Doorstep EU is for you!
You can download my app here: richardcorbett.org.uk/app