Tim Farron challenges 'pathetic' Corbyn and Cameron on EU stance
The Liberal Democrat leader said his would be the “one party united in its commitment to maintain Britain’s place in Europe”.
The Prime Minister has insisted he “rules nothing out” in terms of his position on the UK staying in the EU, as he tries to renegotiate Britain’s membership terms with Brussels.
Labour leader Mr Corbyn, meanwhile, offered a number of tepid endorsements of Britain’s membership of the EU before later clarifying that Labour would be campaigning to remain in the bloc under pressure from his own frontbench.
“Britain needs leadership,” he wrote. “So I challenge both David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn to join me in saying once and for all they will stand up for Britain’s interests in Europe, they will join me in the In campaign, and they will give Britain the leadership it needs.
“Any other response is not only inadequate – it’s downright pathetic.”
He writes that Mr Corbyn, like Mr Cameron, “does not dare tell us what he really thinks for fear that he will split his party”.
“He hides behind ambiguous language and partial promises, hoping that no one will call him on it,” the Liberal Democrat leader adds.
“This is the champion of new politics, of honest speaking - and on the greatest political issue of our generation he will not even say what he really thinks!
“Two leaders who refuse to lead. United by prevarication, in the name of party management.”
VOTES AT 16
Meanwhile, the House of Lords is holding its first debate on the bill to set up the EU referendum, with the biggest flashpoint the question of whether 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote.
Opening the debate, Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay said the Government “remains firmly convinced” that the voting age should stay at 18.
“We do not believe that this bill...should be the vehicle for doing this [changing the electoral franchise],” she said.
But Labour frontbencher Baroness Morgan said it was “highly unfair” for 16 and 17-year-olds to be denied the chance to vote.
“This would be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for them to voice their opinion,” she told peers. “It will, after all, be these people who live with the consequences of the vote – longer than any of us.”
And the Liberal Democrats said they would be putting forward an amendment after the Second Reading debate today.
Baroness Smith of Newnham argued the Government “must think again”.
“The Government has unfairly restricted who can have a say on the future of the UK,” she said. “The Liberal Democrats are committed to create a referendum that is fair, democratic and open.”