Exclusive: Labour expects EU Referendum this June

Paul Blomfield
Paul Blomfield
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LABOUR campaigners are preparing themselves for an EU referendum vote to be held at the end of June.

Paul Blomfield MP told The Yorkshire Post the Labour In For Britain Campaign expects the public will be asked to head to the polls in just five months time.

Labour is expecting EU referendum in June. Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Labour is expecting EU referendum in June. Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

With Scottish summer holidays beginning on Thursday 30 June, it is understood that a favourite day is Thursday June 23.

“It increasingly looks as if the referendum will be held by the end of June, so at last we’ll end the damaging uncertainty created by David Cameron’s inability to manage Conservative divisions on Europe,” said the Sheffield Central MP, who is Parliamentary Private Secretary to shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn.

He said: “Under Alan Johnson’s leadership Labour’s campaign for a vote to stay in has hit the ground running. We need to be in Europe for jobs, employee rights, environmental protection and consumer benefits.”

Senior Labour figure and Hull West MP Alan Johnson is making the case that exports to the EU worth £227 billion a year are vital to the economy, the country receives £26.5bn in investment from EU nations and the average family saves £450 a year on the cost of living due to the single market’s lower prices.

The Prime Minister has already indicated that the vote is due in 2016 and has ruled out holding the election on May 5, 2016, the same day as elections to devolved parliaments in Scotland and the London mayoral election.

However Will Straw, the executive director of the national pro-EU Britain Stronger in Europe campaign has said they are preparing for a range of referendum dates.

The group, which has a number of high profile business leaders including former Marks and Spencer boss Stuart Rose and business woman Karen Brady, among its ranks is ‘preparing for every eventuality’, Mr Straw said.

He revealed today that the cost of Brexit to a UK property owner would also include a rise in home insurance, which currently benefits from the EU single market driving down prices.

Each year households in Yorkshire and the Humber are estimated to save £32.9m in cheaper home insurance due to EU membership, up to £20 per person, according to report Europe Economics, written for the Government in 2014.

Mr Straw, who is the son for former Labour Home Secretary Jack Staw, said: “Whether it’s booking holiday flights, doing the weekly shop or taking out insurance on their home, people in Yorkshire and the Humber are better off thanks to the UK’s membership of Europe.”

The farming community in Yorkshire also benefits significantly from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which he said currently provides 43% of agricultural income for Britain.

He said: “[Leaving would] probably lead to the greater concentration of the farming sector in the UK as is the case in the United States.

“A lot of small farmers would be bought out of business by big farms and that would massively undermine the rural community and it’s something we don’t want to see for a second.”

The over 65’s also benefit from a raft of EU initiatives, he argued, including the funding of research into Alzheimers and neuro-degenerative diseases, and pension protection.

Mr Straw said: “I think there’s also a very important point to be made about the finances of older people, pensions inparticular.”

Credit rating could destabilise savings, that could in turn affect pension value, Mr Straw suggested.

A spokesperson for opposing campaign group Vote Leave, said EU funding for medical research is simply British tax payers money being recycled through the bureaucracy of the union back and then handed back to UK institutions.

Conservative Euro-sceptic MP for Shipley, Philip Davies, said: “It sounds like pretty desperate stuff to me, if home insurance is the best they can come up with for why we should be spending £19bn a year in membership fees. We hand over £19bn a year and the House of Commons produced the figures which show we get back £8bn.

“Europe is going to keep on trading freely with us. Given we are the single biggest market for the EU, we can freely trade with them for nothing, without having to hand over £19bn.”

He said he didn’t know the exact date of the referndum but that the Prime Minister clearly wants ‘to get it over and done with as quickly as possible’.