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Ed Miliband has ruled out matching the Conservative pledge of an EU referendum in 2017, but will offer voters an in/out vote if more powers move to Brussels.
In a speech today, Mr Miliband said that a Labour government would legislate for a new lock so that voters had a “clear choice” about Britain’s relationship with Europe.
Mr Miliband said he believed it was "unlikely" that a transfer of powers was likely in the next Parliament, but he added: "The British people know, given the history of the EU, as well as uncertainty about precisely what an integrating Eurozone might involve, that it remains possible and they need a guarantee."
The Conservatives have seized on the comments to urge voters who want an in/out vote to back the Tories in 2015.
“What is clear is under Labour, there won’t be a referendum. The only way to get an in/out referendum and a proper renegotiation of Britain’s position in Europe, reform in Europe, the only way to get that is to have the Conservatives in government,” David Cameron told the BBC.
Figures within Labour have also raised doubts about the stance. John Mills, a major donor to the party, argued that the influence of the European Union over Britain meant an in/out vote was necessary “regardless of future events”.
However, Mr Miliband brushed off the comments, insisting that the “vast majority” of his party stood behind him.
He has received support from the CBI and British Chambers of Commerce business groups, which welcomed the clarity offered by today’s speech.
Lord Mandelson, the former business secretary who has previously called for a referendum, said the Labour leader had “arrived at the right position on the issue”.
“It will be seen over time as quite a game-changer for Ed Miliband. I think he’s shown judgement, and courage, he’s gone out and made the political weather on a major issue and I think as a result it will strengthen him and help him win the next election,” the peer told the Today programme.
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