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UK Politics

Shadow cabinet decides to abstain on Maastricht Third Reading

Labour's European credentials were set to come under attack last night after the Shadow cabinet decided that the party should officially abstain on the Third Reading of the Bill to ratify the Maastricht treaty.

The decision is expected to provoke protests from fervent pro-Europeans within Labour's ranks as well as the inevitable derision of the Government benches. Labour also risks opening itself to damaging criticism in the run-up to next year's European Parliament elections.

But a senior source insisted the decision was more than justified now that Labour had secured a vote on the Social Chapter opt-out before the Bill received Royal Assent. There is no chance of a government defeat on the Third Reading.