Speculation on Labour’s position on an EU referendum has been building for a while. It all started with the arch pro-European, Peter Mandelson, who unexpectedly said on May 3:
I believe a fresh referendum 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 was soon given further credence by the shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who said:
That might be an issue whose time comes.
Although he added: “I don’t think that time is now.”
Two weeks later, Ed Miliband shuffled his top team and placed Jon Cruddas, who has previously called for an in/out vote, in the role of policy chief. That appointment triggered further speculation, which was distilled in an Observer piece on May 19 headlined Ed Miliband set for decision on Europe referendum:
The Observer has been told that, after discussions with shadow cabinet members, Miliband is leaving the door open to a referendum.