Guido has been leaked documents purporting to be Labour’s whipping orders on how Miliband plans to deal with James Wharton’s EU referendum Private Members Bill at the beginning of next month. It’s pretty rough and ready – Labour seem to be ordering their troops to run away.
1. OUR APPROACH
We are not asking colleagues to be in Westminster on Friday 5 July, as if there was a vote Labour will abstain on the Bill at Second Reading. A suggested response will be circulated by the PLP via email shortly.
This is a Tory gimmick, a political stunt and therefore we are suggesting colleagues do not need to be here, unless they are prepared to make a supportive speech on Labour’s position (see below).
The PM has been forced into supporting this Private Members’ Bill because he’s a weak leader and in hoc to his eurosceptic backbenchers. He’s conned his backbenchers into believing that this will become law and we will dismiss this as a political stunt that it is, saying it is quite wrong to use the mechanism of the Private Members’ Bill to bring in a major constitutional measure.
It is quite wrong to commit and legislate now for an in/out referendum which would create four years of uncertainty, putting at risk the national interest by damaging both jobs and the economy.
For these reasons we will not be voting on the Bill at Second Reading.
2. SPEAKING AT SECOND READING
NOTE FOR WHIPS: We will be looking for suitable speakers so that the chamber is not completely empty and if there are those in your group who would be happy to speak and make the points above, then please make a judgement and ask them whether they would be prepared to make a speech on Friday 5 July.
If this is the real line then Guido is sceptical that this is Labour’s best tactic. Ducking the issue through parliamentary jiggery-pokery will not save them from the voters…