Labour MEPs: “We must face our future challenges not through isolation but through cooperation”

The European Parliament debated the draft deal between Donald Tusk and David Cameron on the EU renegotiation today, ahead of the UK referendum on membership.

Richard Corbett MEP, Labour’s Deputy Leader in the European Parliament, told MEPs:

“The proposed settlement for Britain contains a mixture of important, significant, concessions and symbolic gestures. Speaking for my Labour colleagues today, I must say that we would not have chosen the path that Mr Cameron has taken.

“We understand the concerns expressed by many colleagues about some of the significant concessions given to the UK, not least the limits imposed on welfare rights of employed, tax-paying citizens of other EU countries living in Britain.

“On the other hand I’m sure you will all be pleased – as British Labour members certainly are – that there is no opt-out or weakening of the social chapter of the treaty enshrining workplace rights.

“But whatever one’s opinion on the Cameron package, the big issue at stake is Britain’s very membership of the EU. It is Labour’s view that, irrespective of Mr Cameron’s package, it is in Britain’s vital national interest to remain. It is also in Europe’s interest.”

Catherine Stihler MEP added:

“In the Tusk letter there are some useful things. There are some trivial things. There are some things we don’t particularly like. But the referendum is not ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to Cameron’s deal, but the much bigger question of whether the UK should leave or remain in the EU.

“I believe and my party believes that remaining in the EU is in the best interest of Britain’s economy and security; good for jobs, workplace rights, the environment and to face our future challenges not through isolation but through cooperation.

“The alternative which the Eurosceptics peddle is for the UK to walk away, have no say but still have to pay. And to the Scottish Nationalists, this is not about ‘when’ a referendum will be held but about the future of Scotland being part of the EU through the UK and the benefits we gain for jobs and working people in Scotland.

“I want the UK to remain part of the EU family, for our long term future as a country and our long term prosperity as a nation.”