EU Referendum ten weeks to go: Unusual bedfellows to join forces to campaign
- Credit: AP
The ten week countdown to European Union referendum day starts today.
Voters will have just two options when they enter the polling booth on June 23 - remain in the European Union, or leave the European Union.
It means that over the coming weeks, the most unlikely of bedfellows will be on the same side of the debate.
While Prime Minister David Cameron - who is the figurehead of the official government position to remain - has been touring the country making his case, it was only yesterday that opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn entered the fray to urge people to vote to remain.
But Norwich MP Clive Lewis said the Labour campaign would keep its distance from the Conservatives, and he was unlikely to be sharing a platform with them to make the case.
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'We don't want to be hitched any closer than we have to be. Yes we are voting for an 'in' campaign, but the kind of Europe David Cameron and the people around him want to see, and the one we want to see, are vastly different ones.' 'The only thing we have in common is we want to stay in the EU to reform it, but our visions are vastly different.'
'This is the lesson we learnt from Scotland. The Labour IN campaign, the one I will be part of, we all have the overarching aim, but I think our campaign will be very distant from the Tories. We are not going to make the same mistake as Scotland where we won the battle but lost the war.'
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But it is not just the campaign to remain which has been lacking harmony. A bitter war of words between the two organisations vying to win the official designation to campaign to leave, and with it taxpayer cash to help with the campaign, has been raging between Boris Johnson-headed Vote Leave and Grassroots Out, which was backed by UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage.
But Eric Masters, who has been heading the Grassroots Out effort in Norwich, said they had long been working with Vote Leave locally. 'We have always believed this will be a combined effort,' he said.
And with ten weeks to go the efforts of both sides will be multiplied. Mr Lewis said his party needed to galvanise Labour voters who may not turn out. 'That would be a travesty if that happens.' Although he said the local council elections would be his focus until May 5.
He said he was currently helping to organise a national tour of 'progressive' politicians, which was likely to have a Norwich date. Mr Masters said they had already been holding market stalls in the city and he said he was very keen to take party in any hustings and debates with 'full gusto'.
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