– Mandelson admits Britain can’t go on without referendum on EU membership (Daily Mail, May 4, 2012):
Peter Mandelson will today call for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
The crisis-hit Eurozone will only survive if it operates more as ‘a single political entity’ with its own president and national MPs sitting within the EU, the architect of New Labour will say.
But the staunchly pro-Europe Lord Mandelson will admit that further EU integration cannot be foisted on to the British public without an in/out referendum.
He will say that the European mandate secured by the Heath government in the 1970s ‘belongs to another time and another generation’.
‘I believe a fresh referendum on this will be necessary because the political parties cannot reconcile their own differences and come to a final conclusion on their own, and nor should they,’ he will say.
He will make his demand for a ballot in a speech in Oxford today in a move that is at odds with Labour’s opposition to a referendum.
The former EU Trade Commissioner’s intervention will also be used as ammunition from David Cameron’s Eurosceptic backbenchers to pile pressure on the Prime Minister to hold a referendum.
Lord Mandelson will say the referendum should take place once the Eurozone crisis has ended and the case can be made for a stronger fiscal union.
‘At that stage, a referendum would be a healthy means of re-establishing a consensus – among Britons, and among the nations of Britain for that matter – about Britain’s place in the world and the role Europe should play in that,’ he will say.
The burden should now fall on the Europhile Labour and Lib Dems to make the case for a referendum, he will say, adding: ‘The Tory allergy to public debate on Europe for a decade has to some degree let Labour and the Lib Dems off the hook.’
Britain will face the stark choice of having to join a single currency or staying on the outside, facing an ‘uncertain future’ with an export market over which it has no control.
The Labour peer will say: ‘Britain will find itself a decade from now the only state in the EU, certainly the only large state, outside the Eurozone.
Effectively the EU will have been rebooted, with the UK on the outside. We must not delude ourselves about this.’
Just a day after his ally Tony Blair made clear he was ready for a political comeback, Lord Mandelson will say that the EU should have an elected president.
‘The case is growing for electing the personality who leads Europe’s governance, either directly across the EU or indirectly through the European Parliament,’ he is expected to say.