Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

A positive, patriotic case for EU membership

How great it was, at the beginning of a vital election campaign, to see Ed Miliband championing our membership of the European Union, and to see Tony Blair doing the same today. We need to hear these arguments more – and Labour party members need to have the tools to argue the case for EU membership when it comes up on the doorstep. We must be positive and proud of our case. Otherwise we risk spending the next few years – in or out of government – debating a referendum and our EU membership.

We are faced by the United Kingdom Independence party and Nigel Farage, wrapped in Union Jacks and talking about patriotism. And many people, though they may not necessarily want him to govern us, certainly feel Farage ‘says what needs to be said’. They are joined, of course, by an ever more desperate Tory party misguidedly tacking right, not centre. Labour should be clear that talk is not good enough for Britain. We need EU membership to do what needs to be done to take our country forward in the 21st century.

Ed often says, ‘We can do so much better than this’. And it is true. The Tories are not doing what needs to be done to take this country forward – in fact, they are taking us backwards. That is nowhere more clear than in David Cameron’s absence on the international stage and lack of influence in Europe. That inability to get things done through the EU is not a case for leaving. Just for electing a Labour government.

EU membership is the path for patriots who care about Britain’s future. Even if we had a prime minister intent on doing the right things for the long term future of Britain, they would have far less ability to do it outside the EU. Patriotism is not arguing against the EU, when without it we will not be able to do what needs to be done to take Britain forward. Farage might think he is arguing to repatriate powers to our government, but without EU membership our government would really be powerless to tackle the big issues of the day.

  • Britain needs to get growth, jobs and investment into our economy. That is best achieved through the EU.
  • Britain needs to tackle crime and terrorism. That is best achieved through the EU.
  • Britain needs energy security. That is best achieved through the EU.
  • Britain needs to tackle climate change, but remain competitive. That is best achieved through the EU.
  • We need British influence in the world, to do the best for British people in a globalised world. That is best achieved through the EU.

The solutions we could come up with to any of these challenges would be far less adequate for British people without EU membership. Ed’s correct: we cannot achieve for the British people without the EU. Farage is all talk, while Ed is ensuring Britain does what needs to be done to secure our future. And I think that makes him the real patriot.


Nicola Heaton is parliamentary candidate for Mid Derbyshire and a councillor on Nottingham city council. She tweets @NicolaHeaton

Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.

It takes time, commitment and money to build a fight against the forces of conservatism. If you value the work Progress does, please support us by becoming a member, subscriber or donating.

Our work depends on you.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Nicola Heaton

is a councillor on Nottingham city council


  • And above all, Britain needs to regain control of its borders, so that its public services…housing, health and education…are no longer being crushed by unstoppable numbers. Since obtaining 27 EU votes in favour of altering a fundamental pillar of the Union is unlikely, leaving the EU is the only option.

  • Excellent article – very well said! It’s about time people woke up to the fact that the UK’s place is at the heart of the EU. All this silly bickering from extremists on the far right achieves nothing except alienating us from where we belong, which is hardly patriotic. No, the true patriot knows that the UK belongs in the EU, and to think otherwise is not only unpatriotic, it is unBritish.

  • Thank you for this article.
    And thank you to Tony Blair for bringing the referendum issue to the foreground. If we have a referendum, we might find the angry brigade, Sun readers, and the don’t knows, taking us through the exit.

  • O good general comments about being in the EU with which I agree, but details please?
    “Britain needs to get growth, jobs and investment into our economy. That is best achieved through the EU””. How? What has been done? How do firms & individuals access it? These comments are too vague to answer the anti-EU brigade.

Sign up to our daily roundup email