UK- EU: Both major parties could promise EU referendum in 2015
Both the Conservative and Labour parties could promise a national referendum on the UK's membership to the European Union in their 2015 manifestos.
Prime Minister David Cameron is already under pressure from some of his backbenchers, who have demanded that he promise a referendum on Europe in order to win back voters from UKIP.
Europe has been a thorny issue for the Conservatives, and was a key reason for John Major’s defeat in 1997 despite the economic recovery the Tory leader saw through.
In order not to jeopardise the coalition relationship with the Liberal Democrats, the Prime Minister has so far adopted a wait and see approach. The government wants to wait, especially since Angela Merkel is not keen to move too fast on European integration before the German federal elections in 2013.
On Friday, David Cameron, while on a visit to Brazil gave the clearest indication that he would hold an EU referendum.
"I don't think it is in Britain's interests to leave the EU but I do think what it is increasingly becoming the time for is a new settlement between Britain and Europe, and I think that new settlement will require fresh consent,” the Prime Minister said. “In the next parliament, I think there will be opportunities for a fresh settlement and for new consent to that settlement.”
He pointed out that the economic crisis has proved that the Eurozone needs to integrate more, but that also gives the UK a chance to reshape its relationship with Europe.
Less than 24 hours after the Prime Minister’s statement, Labour’s Policy Chief Jon Cruddas said that his party would seriously consider promising a referendum on Europe as well in their manifesto for 2015.
"It's something we will be looking at in depth in the policy review," he told the Daily Telegraph. “At some stage there is going to have to be some resolution of what our relationship is here and what format that takes. It could be a referendum.”
Cruddas went on, "We have said the time is not right as regards a referendum on Europe given the economics ricocheting around the eurozone. Obviously our position needs to be developed over the next period."