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Kinnock warning on EU referendum

Labour should not support a referendum on membership of the European Union, former leader Lord Kinnock said in a warning to Ed Miliband.

Lord Kinnock, a former vice president of the European Commission, said David Cameron's promise of a vote on severing ties with Brussels by the end of 2017 involved "gigantic risks" for the country.

The Prime Minister has said that he will attempt to renegotiate Britain's relationship with Brussels and put it to a public vote if he is still in No 10 after the 2015 general election.

Asked in a New Statesman interview whether Mr Miliband should support the in/out vote on EU membership he said "no, absolutely not".

Lord Kinnock said: "When the question comes up, I offer in response this question: 'why should our country be subjected to the distraction, the cost and, most of all, the gigantic risks that come with the referendum, simply because the leader of the Conservative Party can't run his party?'

"He (Mr Cameron) is suffering the fate of all appeasers, which is to be eaten by the people he's trying to appease. What he does inside his own party is his business but he really hasn't got the right to inflict that on the future of our country.

"Investor after investor, company after company, of all sizes, say we will lack investment, we will lack decisions to locate, or to deepen commitment in the UK, we will lack customers if this great breach was to take place.

"The dangers attendant upon having the referendum in those conditions, where there is no constitutional justification whatsoever, are massive."

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage dismissed Lord Kinnock's comments, saying: " That this washed up politician, who personally receives upwards of £83,000 per year in his EU pension can claim that there is no need for a referendum on Britain's relationship with the EU just shows the level of disdain he feels towards the hopes and wishes of the British people.

"He was rejected at the polls, and his style of arrogant rejection of choice displayed here just reminds us why. Millions of normal Labour supporters will hear of his comments with dismay. They too deserve a say."

Lord Kinnock also hit out at New Labour's architect Lord Mandelson, who claimed Mr Miliband was in danger of taking the party backwards.

Following Mr Miliband's pledge to intervene to freeze energy prices Lord Mandelson said: ''I believe that perceptions of Labour policy are in danger of being taken backwards.''

But Lord Kinnock said: "I was rather amazed. Peter knows very well that governments in modern democracies must intervene when markets are plainly malfunctioning.

"Being doctrinaire about that doesn't help, as Germany, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries and many other instances show. Even George Osborne, in his clumsy way, has intervened in an attempt to prevent the housing market from juddering to a halt and Maggie Thatcher introduced housing benefit in order to keep the private rental sector afloat. Of course, when they intervene, it's 'stimulus' - when Labour does, it's 'socialism'."


From Belfast Telegraph