Ex-UK Labour leaders urge pro-EU vote from members

4th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

Former leaders of Britain's main opposition Labour Saturday urged supporters to vote in favour of EU membership at this month's referendum.

Six senior figures including Tony Blair and Gordon Brown said that, unless the party's supporters turned out to vote on June 23, there was a risk of Brexit.

Current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised by some over his relatively low-profile support for remaining in the European Union.

The veteran socialist -- deeply sceptical of the EU for much of his career -- has made a small number of speeches on the referendum and refuses to campaign alongside Prime Minister David Cameron.

"If Labour stays at home, Britain leaves," the former Labour leaders wrote in a letter published by the Guardian newspaper.

"And a vote to leave is a vote for a profound and permanent loss the whole country would feel, whether through lost jobs or lost generations.

"Only Labour can save Britain from Brexit."

The letter warned that leaving the EU could cause a recession, leading to spending cuts by Cameron's Conservatives and "a bonfire of workers' rights".

Labour is Britain's biggest political party by membership, with around 380,000 members.

The leaders of some of Britain's trade unions -- Labour's biggest financial backers -- are among those who say Corbyn should be doing more to help keep Britain in the EU.

On Thursday, the boss of one of the biggest, Tim Roache of the GMB, said Labour needed to be "a bit more bold... a bit more brave, in taking on the issues in working people's minds, rather than keeping silent about them".

Opinion polls suggest the referendum will be close.

The "Remain" campaign currently has 51 percent support compared to 49 percent for "Leave", according to an average of the last six polls by the What UK Thinks academic project.

This does not include undecided voters.

© 2016 AFP

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