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11 September 2015

Alan Johnson on the European Referendum

Government Affairs

Earlier this week Edelman and Industry Forum hosted a roundtable lunch with Alan Johnson on “Why we should say yes to Europe”. In a subsequent interview with Edelman in the video below, he made clear the challenges facing businesses who want to make the case for Europe.

In Edelman’s view, the challenge, if anything, is even more difficult for both political parties. The Prime Minister faces the task of renegotiating the terms of Britain’s membership ahead of the December summit whilst, at the same time, managing the expectations of a core of increasingly self-confident Eurosceptic rebels and their Cabinet allies. The October Party Conference will see the next round of skirmishes after this week’s Parliamentary defeat. That No10 are looking at an early vote and are rumoured to be telling business how and when to comment, indicates their nervousness.

The position is no easier on the Labour side, even though the number of MPs who will actively campaign for leaving is in single figures. There is a determination that there will be a distinct Labour voice for Europe underneath the umbrella of the pro-EU campaign. However, how a Labour for Europe campaign will operate under a Corbyn led party, especially if he pursues his commitment for a special conference to decide the party’s EU position, remains to be seen.

Image by catch21productions (Flickr: Alan Johnson MP) [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr Creative Commons

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