European elections 2014: Labour MPs call on Ed Miliband to promise a European referendum

 

Ed Miliband will be put under pressure from Labour MPs calling on him to promise a referendum on Europe in the wake of the Euro elections.

Fifteen Labour MPs have already urged Mr Miliband to match David Cameron’s promise of a referendum and will renew their demand as a way to limit the threat from Ukip at next year’s general election.

Several Labour MPs believe Ukip’s advance in last Thursday’s local and European elections showed it could win working class votes and deprive Labour of victory in key marginal seats where Labour and the Conservatives are in a tight race.

Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead and a supporter of a referendum, said on Sunday: “The greatest challenge Ukip poses is to Labour. If we are to win next year, it will be Ukip that becomes our main opposition.

“If we lose, after the country going through the worst recession ever, we could see part of our vote moving over permanently. For much of this vote, we don’t represent their interests any more and Ukip is prepared to voice their fears on immigration, which rate high in their politics.”

Read more: Ukip top poll as Europe moves to right
Far-right parties flourish across Europe
BNP leader Nick Griffin loses seat
Ukip sets target of 20 seats for 2015
Calls for Lib Dem unity after calls for Clegg to go
Conservatives bid to ward off Ukip threat

But allies of Mr Miliband made clear that there was “absolutely no prospect” he would change his stance on Europe.

In March, the Labour leader said a referendum was “unlikely” in the 2015-20 parliament if he is prime minister, but promised to hold one if Britain proposed to hand more powers to the European Union.

Miliband supporters insist that Ukip poses more of a threat to the Tories than to Labour But some Labour MPs believe the party leadership is still underestimating the danger from Nigel Farage’s party.

There are tensions in the Shadow Cabinet over Labour’s campaign for the elections. Allies of Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, suggested that she wanted a harder line against Ukip.

But Miliband supporters insisted Ms Cooper was asked by the leader’s office to write a newspaper article attacking the anti-EU party.

Some shadow ministers complain that Labour’s campaign was “all about Ed” but the leader’s allies replied that some frontbenchers did not pull their weight. “A lot of people are being wise after the event,” said one.

On Sunday Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “As far as the public is concerned, us turning inwards and having self-criticism is not a good idea. We need to be listening to their concerns and acting on them.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, she dismissed the idea there was an “Ed Miliband problem” and urged voters to judge him on what he had done.

“Since 2010 when Ed Miliband became leader we have had the momentum of moving forward when people are voting. The momentum is there,” she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Hampshire

£25000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor