Cooper says referendum debate dominated by internal Tory row

Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper
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THE EU referendum debate has so far been “dominated” by an internal Tory party row which is “dangerous for the future of the country”, Labour former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said.

Ms Cooper, MP for Pontecraft, Castleford and Normanton, warned the Conservatives were “making this a battle over personalities and over who’s going to be the next leader of the Tory party” adding: “It’s actually I think deeply dangerous”.

She stressed the Labour Party was “strongly supporting” the case for remaining in Europe and urged leader Jeremy Corbyn to do more EU campaigning stating: “I hope that Jeremy will do some more things campaigning on Europe, I think it’s really important that he does.”

She said: “I think what’s going on here is you’ve just got an increasingly hysterical battle for the future of the Tory party and they are trying to hijack the future of the country, we cannot let them do that.

“This has got to be about our future as Britain and why we’ll be stronger in Europe and not get sucked into a battle between old Etonians about their political parties.”

The Conservatives she said had obviously got “very deep divisions” over Europe, but were starting to become “really quite hysterical”, adding: “Somehow the idea from Michael Gove that Europe and the EU is responsible for the rise of fascism in Europe, they’ll be blaming the EU for the rise of Donald Trump and the Ku Klux Klan in the States next, it’s a really unbalanced approach now rather than talking about the facts.”

Ms Cooper dismissed remarks by London mayor Boris Johnson as “wiffle waffle” about what the future might be in terms of trade if Britain voted to leave the EU.

She accused the Tory MP, who is backing a Brexit, of “playing games”, adding: “He’s not serious, I’m baffled frankly as to why anybody takes him seriously at all.”

She said: “We need some answers from them about what the trade deals would be, about whether or not we’d have higher tariffs and what the impact is going to be for jobs.”

Ms Cooper acknowledged there was a problem with the Eurozone and did not think Britain should ever be part of the euro as it was “flawed”.

She warned any trade deal with tariffs would push up the cost of goods not wages and Britain should be working across Europe to stop undercutting of wages and protecting workers’ rights.

Ms Cooper, who is leader of Labour’s refugee taskforce and ambassador for the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign said Britain was “definitely safer” being part of intelligence sharing networks.

She stressed the Labour Party was “strongly supporting” the case for being in Europe and urged Mr Corbyn to do more campaigning on Europe.

She said: “I haven’t talked to him about it but I really hope he does because I think it’s so important, I think he needs to.”

She went on: “I hope that Jeremy will do some more things campaigning on Europe, I think it’s really important that he does”, adding: “We’ve also got to have I think, far more from all sides, far more women’s voices as part of this because it’s looking like a real male stale campaign.”

Labour MP and former party leadership contender Liz Kendall warned there were “some on the left of the party who may be prevaricating” about Britain’s EU membership.

The MP for Leicester West told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “This is the biggest political issue we face in a generation and it’s going to rest on Labour members and supporters getting out to vote to make sure we remain part of the EU.

“There are some on the left of the party who may be prevaricating about our membership, but actually it’s about jobs, growth and the politics of solidarity and we have to make that case.”