If there’s one thing that has unified voters on the doorstep, it’s the belief that the information available about the EU referendum – mostly from Tories – has been rubbish.
Most people said they were totally confused about the referendum – why we were having it, what we were voting about, and the issues that make our membership controversial.
And they were right to raise these points. It is very easy to put forward a convincing argument against any large organisation, for example, if one only concentrates on a small part of it that is questionable.
People wanted to know what the UK’s membership of the EU means as a whole, to make them better able to judge whether this country would be better-off as a member or not.
The Tory referendum campaigns – both for and against – have so far tried to terrify us over the EU’s effects on matters ranging from migration to the NHS, while members of the UK’s (current) ruling party have been reduced to launching silly attacks on each other.
In that context, John McDonnell’s entry into the debate must seem like a breath of fresh air.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, will say that Labour can “rescue” the European Union referendum debate from Conservative infighting by making a positive case for Britain to remain in the EU.
Speaking a day after his predecessor Ed Balls appeared alongside George Osborne in a hangar at Stansted airport to promote the message that Britain is stronger in Europe, McDonnell will say Labour has its own, distinctive argument about “hope and solidarity” to bring to the debate.
Senior Conservatives have repeatedly clashed over the referendum in recent days, with Boris Johnson accusing the prime minister of “totally demented” scare-mongering, and the Treasury of talking down the British economy, while the chancellor accused the leave camp of stoking conspiracy theories about an establishment stitch-up.
Speculation is rife that the David Cameron could face a leadership challenge once the referendum is out of the way, even if the public vote to remain in the EU. Eurosceptic backbenchers have become increasingly irritated at the tightly controlled campaign to convince voters of the risks of leaving, which many see as a cynical “Project Fear” approach.
“It’s time to turn this debate around, drive out the politics of despair and offer a vision for Britain and Europe, one where we protect workers’ rights, tackle tax avoidance, get to grips with climate change and protect our industries like steel. This is a vision of Europe based on hope and solidarity,” he will say.
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