Mr Miliband sat firmly on the fence yesterday in his speech on a referendum. The bottom line, we were told, was a referendum would be unlikely between 2015 and 2020 if Labour win the election. The Mirror can say that means a vote is possible, and the FT can reassure business (just the Europhile kind of course) that there will be no referendum.
The problem with the policy is that it is based on a lie. It assumes no powers are currently passing to the EU, and that no powers will pass to the EU in the next Parliament. Why doesn’t Mr Miliband admit this is untrue? Is he ignorant, or deliberately misleading people?
Early this year our power to control the numbers of people coming to our country from Romania and Bulgaria passed to the EU. There was no referendum on that and Labour did not seek one. The EU has in recent years passed substantial legislation to control and regulate banking and financial services. Most of this work is now controlled by the EU. Mr Miliband did not seek a referendum on that. The EU is currently planning strengthened banking and market abuse legislation. He is not offering us a vote on that.
The EU has just set out targets and policies for energy between 2020 and 2030, limiting the right of the UK to have its own energy policy. Mr Miliband did not ask for a referendum on that.
The Coalition has rightly opted the UK out of all the Criminal Justice measures of the EU. Mr Miliband has stated his intention to opt us back in to some of the most important ones, taking power away from the UK. He is not offering us a vote on that.
New countries may enter the EU in the next few years. Their entry will reduce the UK’s power of self government, as their citizens will gain many rights enforced by the EU. I doubt we will be offered a vote on that either by Mr Miliband.
The cynicism of the contradictory headlines in the Mirror and FT were well brought out by the Today programme yesterday morning. Underneath that deliberately spun set of contradictions is a fundamental lie. Power is being transferred all the time to the EU. Every new Directive and regulation gives the EU more power and the UK government less. Mr Miliband has no intention of holding a referendum on it despite his promise.