Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell urges Ed Miliband to offer an EU referendum

Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell has challenged Labour leader Ed Miliband on his party's pro-EU stance

Emily Barber Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell
Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell

Labour leader Ed Miliband has been urged to drop his opposition to an EU referendum.

Veteran North East MP Ronnie Campbell has said the party leader can no longer ignore calls for a referendum after UKIP topped the polls last week.

The Blyth MP said that when all the pro-referendum parties were counted together, including the conservatives, they represented 60% of those voting.

Last night, Mr Campbell called on Mr Miliband to realise that voters outside of London did not share the party’s pro-EU stance.

“The people want it, and we should deliver it,” Mr Campbell said. “Labour lost local council seats to UKIP in its northern heartlands and in those, marginal Labour needs to win to form a government at the next election.

“It is clear from these elections that the British people want a referendum and Labour would do well to hear that message.

“To enter the 2015 General Election without committing to an in/out referendum would leave Labour dangerously exposed to attack from our political rivals.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband
Labour leader Ed Miliband
 

Mr Miliband has said there will not be a referendum under his leadership, adding that “a Labour government won’t make false promises, or cut ourselves off from the rest of the world because it would be bad for Britain.”

Mr Campbell told The Journal the leader’s position failed to reflect the mood of voters across the country.

He said: “During both contests last week Labour made gains across the country and I congratulate all those newly-elected Labour councillors and MEPs and their staff and party volunteers.

“However, they must be understood as a national election. It provides a compelling view of the British political landscape one year before the general election. It is the first time in over 100 years that a national election has not been won by either the Labour or the Conservative parties.

“If the total vote of the definite pro-referendum parties it comes to 60.43% of the votes. The Liberal Democrats and Labour, who currently share a similar position concerning a referendum, equates to 32.27% of the vote. The British people have clearly voted for parties offering an in/out referendum.”

Mr Campbell’s position puts him at odds with many of his Labour colleagues in the North East, with several shadow Government members unlikely to make public any concerns on Europe.

Durham MP Kevan Jones, part of the shadow defence team, said Mr Campbell was “wrong to think that Labour could try to out UKIP UKIP.”

He added: “We we need to do is make the case for why Europe is important, especially here in the North East.”

Also warning against a referendum promise was gateshead MP Ian Mearns.

He said that the UK’s place in Europe was a clear factor in Nissan and Hitachi deciding to maintain or bring a large workforce to the North East.

Mr Mearns added: “For the majority of the North East or elsewhere Europe is not a priority, it is not as big an issue as the economy of the NHS. I think the problem is that large parts of the media, especially the BBC, have treated Nigel Farage like he is the only story. If we could have a debate about the issues maybe, but some people want to create a story instead.”

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