At the moment, Andy Burnham is VP’s favourite in the Labour leadership race. However, there are some major caveats.
He’s right to want to overturn Labour’s opposition to a referendum. It’s going to happen so there’s no longer any point opposing it. His keenness to support an early referendum for the sake of business leaders is disappointing, though. Businesses stand to win a lot from staying in the EU, if TTIP goes through and workers lose most of their rights. Labour should oppose that ferociously but Burnham hasn’t said anything about it.
Labour’s opponents will attack over the proposal to ban new immigrants from claiming benefits for two years, and he’ll need to have an answer for them. The clampdown on undercutting UK pay is sensible Labour policy, as Labour should be supporting workers at all times.
Burnham said he would overturn Labour’s policy of only holding a referendum if there were a substantial transfer of power to Brussels. He said he would back a referendum wholeheartedly, hoping for a new deal and a yes vote. He said the date should be moved for the sake of British businesses who had complained of continued uncertainty.
Burnham said he would back Cameron if he secured a good deal and brought forward the referendum – but would hold him to account if he tried to sell an unambitious settlement as more far-reaching than it was.
His minimum requirement to ensure Labour support for a deal would be that there should be a two-year ban on citizens from other EU countries claiming benefits after they arrive in the country and a clampdown on the undercutting of pay in the UK by European migrants.