Progressives must join the fight to keep Britain in Europe
Back in 1975 I voted in the first European referendum. I voted for Britain to be part of Europe, and it is a decision I have never regretted. Then I was a 25-year-old postman, raising three children on a council estate. I knew the weight of the arguments for and against – I carried them on my back for weeks – delivering the leaflets for both sides.
A lot has changed in the last 40 years, but for me the reasons for progressives to join the fight to keep Britain in Europe remain the same.
It is about British businesses. Businesses that rely on Europe for exports worth £227bn a year. But it is also about rights for British workers in those businesses: minimum paid leave, rights for agency workers, paid maternity and paternity leave, equal pay and anti-discrimination laws. And it is about Britain’s global influence. In this increasingly interdependent world, we can achieve more by working with Europe than we ever could alone. These values are at the core of the Labour party, which is why there is no progressive case for Britain to leave.
Our first aim was to unite the Labour movement. We now have 214 out of 232 Labour MPs signed up to this campaign, including the entire shadow cabinet. We expect affiliated unions to demonstrate their support now that attempts to interfere with the social dimensions of the EU appear to have been abandoned in the prime minister’s renegotiation. At our conference, we were united as a party, making it clear that Labour ‘supports the membership of the EU as a strategic as well as an economic asset to Britain and … approves of UK membership of the EU.’ Conference was clear that winning this referendum is crucial to a stronger, safer, more prosperous Britain.
That is why, with your help, our campaign will reach communities that others cannot. Labour has the values, the reach and the political will to defend Britain’s national interest and campaign to stay in. No other national party of any significance is even on the playing field. So I am looking forward to working with Labour party members and supporters all across our country to help determine Britain’s future. To repeat what was in those ‘Why You Should Vote Yes’ leaflets that I delivered in 1975 and which still resonates today: ‘Being in does not in itself solve our problems. No one pretends it could. It doesn’t guarantee a prosperous future. Only our own efforts will do that. But it offers the best framework for success, the best protection for our standard of living, the best foundation for greater prosperity.’
I look forward to campaigning with you in the months ahead as we make sure Labour is In for Britain.
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