These are the responses we received from Deputy Leadership candidate Ben Bradshaw to our questions on Europe and the EU:
1. In the upcoming referendum on EU membership, what are the key steps Labour should take to secure an ‘in’ vote? How can we mobilise support both within and outside the party?
We need to have a strong, positive Labour campaign for a Yes vote. The appointment of Alan Johnson to lead Labour’s campaign is a good start. Alan is one of Labour’s and Britain’s best loved politicians and a superb communicator. He will also reach parts of the electorate that other politicians can’t. We need to galvanise local CLPs to work alongside the wider Labour family – trades unionists, affiliated organisations, churches, environmental groups and all of civil society who share our support for a Yes vote. The role of employers at local level will also be critical. It is far more effective for businesses, particularly exporters, to make the case to their workforce and the wider public. The campaign will also be an important opportunity for us to rebuild our relations with business, while the Tories tear themselves apart.
2. What are your priorities for EU reform?
Completion of the single market to boost growth, employment and benefit consumers. We don’t talk enough about how the single market has boosted trade, growth and employment, as well as benefiting consumers through measures like cutting mobile phone charges. We’ll also need to fight to keep existing labour, environmental and consumer protections against attempts by the Tories and “No” campaigners to water them down or scrap them completely. I’d also like the EU to co-operate better on foreign and security policy, given the threat from Putin’s Russia & instability on Europe’s southern and eastern borders.
3. What is your vision for Britain’s role in the EU, and how would you position the Labour party with regard to this?
A resounding Yes vote will provide the opportunity for us to put to bed the idea that Britain is a “reluctant partner” in Europe. Our role has been hampered over the years, first by arriving late, then by giving the impression we would rather be somewhere else in Mid Atlantic, hankering after a lost imperial past. As a non Euro member Britain has an important leadership role to play among fellow non Euro members to ensure our interests are protected. Labour will also be better placed after a Yes vote to rebuild strong links with our sister parties across the EU to defend “social Europe” against assaults from the right.
4. What are the key issues that the EU will have to address in the coming years?
Resolving the Euro crisis, jobs and growth. The crisis of confidence in the EU and the rise of right wing populist parties has been fuelled by the impact of the global financial crash and Euro crisis. Too often the Government here has stood on the sidelines with many Tories appearing to relish the Euro crisis in spite of its negative effects, including on Britain. Britain needs to play a constructive role in helping resolve the crisis so the EU can focus on growth. We also face a serious security threat from Putin’s Russia, a growing migration crisis as well as other cross border challenges like Climate Change. We can only address these effectively as wholehearted & constructive partners within the European Union.