Green MP Caroline Lucas is calling on trade unionists to back staying in the EU ahead of a crucial vote on whether workers should campaign to leave.
At today’s TUC Conference, the Assistant General Secretary of Unite, Steve Turner, will tell union members they should be prepared to walk away from the EU if David Cameron gives away workers’ rights as part of his renegotiation.
His comments will come as the Labour Party’s position on EU membership is mired in confusion, with Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn giving a firmer commitment to campaigning to remain in than other frontbenchers.
Ms Lucas who served as a member of the European Parliament before taking her seat at Westminster – is calling on “progressives to unite in support of the European Union”.
She said: “The European Union is far from perfect – but leaving would be utterly disastrous for those of us fighting for a more progressive politics.
“This week we are seeing the Government attempt to strip away our rights at work, but the slashing of our employment and social rights would undoubtedly be worse without the EU laws we have in place to protect us all.
“I know that trade unionists and many in the Labour Party share my concerns with the EU. All too often it has been a vehicle for free-trade. But we won’t change the EU by simply shouting from the sidelines.”
The Green Party’s position on Europe could see clear blue water emerge between itself and the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party.
Some commentators, including Ukip leader Nigel Farage, have claimed the election of Mr Corbyn as leader means there is now “almost no point” voting Green.
Labour expelled 1,900 Green supporters or members from its leadership race, suggesting many were abandoning the eco-friendly party after being attracted by Mr Corbyn’s anti-austerity message.
When asked if she feared losing votes to Mr Corbyn, she replied: “No, I don’t think so. What it will actually do it helps to make more people take a look at us because our arguments are being put on a much broader field.
She added: “The whole nature of British politics is shifting and we’ve been occupying a very large space on our own and saying these are the solutions we need and its not always easy to get traction with that.”