Letter: Should Labour oppose the Maastricht treaty?

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The Independent Online
Sir: I write to correct the report by Colin Brown ('Labour votes promised for Maastricht', 1 July). It is pure fantasy, though assiduously peddled by Government ministers, that up to 60 Labour MPs intend to vote with the Government over the Maastricht Bill.

The main problem with the Bill, from a Labour point of view, is that it does not include the Social Chapter, from which John Major opted out at Maastricht.

It is also untrue that I 'broke ranks'. On the contrary, at the launch of a Fabian Society seminar of my book Offshore: Britain and the European Idea, I urged my party to keep to the sensible position of abstention which it adopted on the second reading.

I also warned, as Colin Brown accurately wrote, that it would be disastrous for the party to join Tory anti-Europeans in voting down the Maastricht Bill. It would be politically damaging for the Labour Party, cut us off from our continental sister parties, and, above all, be against the best interests of Britain and the European Community.

Yours faithfully,


MP for North Durham


House of Commons

London, SW1

1 July