Lords: Government should draw on support from across the political spectrum in making the case for EU membership

Lords: Government should draw on support from across the political spectrum in making the case for EU membership

The House of Lords EU Committee has invited the UK government to articulate the positive benefits of EU membership, clearly presented to the public, “rather than playing on the fear of the alternative”.

It welcomes the government’s new emphasis on the UK’s geopolitical role as part of the EU, and on shared internal security, but suggested that the government should affirm the shared identity and heritage of the peoples of Europe.

The report, entitled The EU referendum and EU reform (available from Wednesday 30 March), examines the government’s objectives on EU reform, and how they evolved in the run up to the negotiations in Brussels in February, the negotiating process, and the most effective way of presenting its vision to the country.

It concludes that the deal reached in Brussels was a “significant achievement”, which justifies the government in arguing that the UK has passed the point of integrating any further with the EU. But it questions whether the Brussels deal, given its complexity, will be a vote swinger.

Commenting on the report the chair of the EU Committee, Lord Boswell, said: “Our role as a committee is not to take a view on whether or not the UK should remain in the EU. That choice is for the people. But we do scrutinise the government, and it is our job to challenge the government over the way in which it is presenting its case for remaining in the EU.”

“So we have explored the government’s objectives for reforming the EU, the long-term vision that underlies those reforms, and the way in which it is trying to carry the people of the UK along with it.”

“The committee concludes that the government will need allies from across the political parties. That means it will need to communicate a positive vision of what the EU can be in order to convince people to vote yes. Playing on voters’ fears may not be enough.”

He added: “There is a real opportunity now, in the wake of the deal struck in Brussels, that the UK can show leadership in helping to make the EU a more flexible, dynamic and competitive place. And in light of last week’s attacks in Brussels, the UK can play a crucial role in helping the EU combat the threat of terrorism, and in strengthening internal security.

“But first the government will try to convince the people, and to do that it needs to aim higher and wider than the terms of the deal, appealing to the values that we share with our compatriots in the EU. It needs to try to capture the spirit that we saw in Wembley last year, when England football fans sang the Marseillaise after the attacks in Paris.”

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