Labour urged to back EU vote

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The Independent Online
Labour should commit itself to a referendum on British participation in European economic and monetary union (EMU), according to a report, backing the single currency, produced for the left-of-centre think tank the Institute of Public Policy Resea rch.

In the most unequivocal call for a referendum to have emerged from the Labour Party, the report argues that such a commitment, "is the best way to inform, involve and interest the British people in a decision that would profoundly affect their lives".

The pamphlet, published on the eve of a speech tomorrow in Brussels by Tony Blair, the Labour leader, argues: "The only way to make Europe less threatening and more popular to the people of Britain is to give them the clear opportunity to choose.

"Offering a referendum gives those broadly in favour of EMU the chance to debate the issue free from the accusations of elitism, conspiracy and betrayal that are so often thrown around by those fundamentally opposed to Britain's membership of the EU."

Mr Blair is expected tomorrow to re-emphasise his belief that the pro-European case has to be argued for and that changes with important constitutional implications will have to be put to the British people.

The institute's pamphlet goes further by saying that the party should give an "immediate" commitment to a referendum which would follow a decision by Parliament in favour of a single currency.

The pamphlet, written by David Ward, the former chief policy adviser to the late Labour leader John Smith, and Alan Donnelly, a Labour MEP and the Socialist group spokesman on the European Parliament's economic and monetary committee, points out that with no major party opposed to a single currency voters do not have the opportunity to vote for an anti-EMU government.

The pamphlet, EMU, The People's Choice, argues that a referendum has especial attractions for a pro-single currency party leader worried about a possible parliamentary rebellion on the issue.

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