These are the responses we received from Leadership candidate Liz Kendall 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?
Britain’s place in Europe is under threat not because it is in the country’s interests to leave the EU but because the Prime Minister has put management of the Conservative Party before Britain’s interests. The EU is our biggest export market and being part of it also helps us attract inward investment from around the world. So the principal reason to stay is about jobs, trade and investment. It is in our economic interests to be part of the EU. But it’s not just about economics. It’s about our place in the world. The EU is better with Britain in it and British influence is increased by being part of it. We should not ignore that this is a group of states with common values too – democracy, respect for human rights, respect for borders, resolving differences peacefully. These values are important when you look beyond Europe’s borders. So for me this is about both jobs and values. I want to see Labour arguing a strong positive case for Britain to remain in the EU, where we should be trying to play a leading role, not giving up and retreating into nationalism and nostalgia. This is very important for our future and the country’s future. If Cameron has shown no leadership over Europe, we must. Holding back or hedging our bets would simply be volunteering for irrelevance.
2. What are your priorities for EU reform?
We need to deepen the single market in areas like services and digital industries where Britain is strong. We need to do more to create jobs for the very high number of unemployed people in the EU, especially young people. And we need to stop the Conservatives engaging in a bonfire of hard won rights and protections for people at work. I am passionately pro-European but the Conservatives would be making a huge mistake if they thought they could build support for a yes vote by trying to turn back the clock to the days when part time workers, pregnant mothers and workers whose companies were subject to takeovers were stripped of employment protection.
3. What is your vision for Britain’s role in the EU, and how would you position the Labour party with regard to this?
Britain should be playing a leading role instead of constantly carping from the sidelines. Mr Cameron’s decision to withdraw his MEPs from the EPP was a huge mistake and has been bad for the country as well as his party’s influence in Europe. With UKIP openly seeking withdrawal that leaves Labour MEPs as the only sizeable delegation from Britain playing a mainstream constructive role. The present discussion in the UK is characterised by a lack of confidence on our part and a lack of recognition of past successes. The single market is in many ways a British success story. We can push for more change too which combines economic competitiveness with social justice. I want us to stay in not just because I believe it is best for Britain but because I believe the EU benefits from the influence of Britain. We should be trying to shape Europe in the future, not seeing it as a threat to us.
4. What are the key issues that the EU will have to address in the coming years?
Europe must get over the crisis in the Eurozone. Everyone has watched with alarm the long drawn out saga over Greece. We need an agreement there that is sustainable for Greece and its people who have suffered a lot in recent years. It is in Britain’s interests to have a healthy Eurozone because it is so important to our exporters and is a major market right on our doorstep. Secondly, I hope a constructive agreement can be reached which helps us win a yes vote in the British referendum. And thirdly we must place more emphasis on Europe’s values in the face of the twin threats from ISIL and Russian aggression on Europe’s eastern borders. Europe should give people hope, prosperity and a sense of belonging. There is much to do.