EU referendum: Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown launches fight-back amid speculation Labour has been absent in the battle so far

James Nickerson
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Gordon Brown Speaks At A Labour In Rally
Brown will say the UK should take on a leading role in the EU (Source: Getty)

The Labour party will today admit it has been on the backfoot during the EU referendum campaign, but pledge to “fight back” starting with a speech from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Significant Labour voices will be out campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU every day between now and the referendum amid concerns that Labour has been a passive observer so far in the EU battle.

Brown will today kick-off Labour’s fight back with “a positive European reform agenda” supported by Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Tom Watson and Alan Johnson, while he unveils jobs, tax and security initiatives that would make Britain leaders in Europe.

“We shouldn’t just be a member of the EU. We must be the leader of the EU. From now until 10pm on 23 June, we will not rest and I will not stop explaining why nine million Labour voters have most to gain from remaining in the EU,” Brown will say.

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“Today I am setting out a positive agenda for Labour voters - reasons why Labour voters should vote Remain and the patriotic case for remaining in Europe."

There has been concern that Labour, and Corbyn in particular, has been lacklustre in its defence of the EU, despite a majority of its MPs backing continued membership.

Over the weekend Corbyn told Channel 4 that he was a “seven or seven-and-a-half” out of 10 on enthusiasm for staying in the EU.

However, doubts were highlighted polling last month showing that half of Labour voters do not know what the party’s position on Europe is.

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So far Labour interventions have focussed on workers’ rights, something Brown will draw on.

“Europe has been responsible for the social chapter which has guaranteed maternity pay, holiday pay, a maximum working week, rights of consultation for workers and rights to be transferred when the company you work for is taken over,” he will add.

However, pro-Brexit Labour MP Gisela Stuart, commenting on Brown’s anticipated speech, said: “We had an opportunity to get positive changes out of the EU but David Cameron blew it with his failed renegotiation.

“Labour voters have seen through the spin of the government which is why they are rejecting the In campaign and no amount of hastily cobbled together relaunches will change that.”

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