Phil is co-chair of Labour Yes, a Labour pro-Europe campaign group alongside fellow North East MP Pat Glass. The group wil organise Labour MPs to speak in Parliamentary debates about the EU, argue for a yes vote in constituencies and reach out to all organisations with an interest in Britain’s future position in Europe.
Full story by Patrick Wintour, "Labour Party forms pro-Europe campaign group," The Observer (14 June 2015) and text here:
Nearly 70 Labour MPs have launched a pro-Europe campaign group in a bid to put forward a distinctive leftwing pro-European voice, and nip in the bud any suggestion that Labour support for a referendum represents a cooling of the party’s support for Europe.
The group, Labour Yes, will have its first meeting on Tuesday, and will try to counter any suggestion that Labour should use the referendum to oppose the EU.
Kate Hoey, a long-term critic of the EU, is meanwhile helping to form a rival Labour Eurosceptic group.
The pro-group has been jointly chaired by Pat Glass, Labour MP for North West Durham, and Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield. The group will co-ordinate Labour MPs to speak up in European debates in parliament, make the case in constituencies and reach out to businesses, trade unionists, universities and other organisations who have an interest in Britain’s future position in Europe.
The group’s formation comes after intense shadow cabinet discussions over whether Labour should participate in a cross-party campaign, including business representatives and the Tories, to make the case for Europe during the referendum. There appears to be a consensus that Labour should join the cross-party group, but also run its own Labour for Europe campaign.
“It’s very important that Labour MPs make the pro-European case,” Glass said. “The Tories are hopelessly divided on this issue and there is a danger that the country’s interests get dragged down by their divisions. The centre of gravity in the Labour party is very firmly to stay in the EU.
“Of course, the case for Britain staying in the EU will not be made by politicians alone but this group will be a strong clear voice in parliament and in the country arguing a case for Britain in Europe based on trade, jobs, investment and our place in the world.”
Wilson said: “Companies like Hitachi and Nissan in the north-east employ thousands of people and part of their reason for being located in the UK is access to the single market. Half the cars made here by Nissan are exported to the EU."
Pat McFadden, the shadow Europe minister, said: “I very much welcome the formation of this group. The past week has shown the continuing disarray in the Conservative party over Europe. Labour Yes will be speaking up for a strong and leading role for Britain in Europe.
Chuka Umunna, the shadow business minister, said: “It is crucial we make an emotional as well as an economic case for our continued membership. We must do so with a clear reform package, reflecting Labour’s values, speaking to the concerns people have about the EU. We should also play our part within a broad campaign involving a variety of different groups. The formation of the Labour Yes group of MPs is an important first step in all of this.”