[LONDON] Britain's opposition Labour Party has demanded Prime Minister David Cameron give voters an independent analysis of the financial impact of a possible exit from the European Union ahead of an in-out membership referendum.
Mr Cameron has pledged to reshape Britain's ties with the 28-country bloc before holding such a referendum by the end of 2017. He says his preference is to stay in a reformed EU, but has "ruled nothing out" if he fails to get what he wants.
Labour said voters needed to be better informed before casting their ballot and that Mr Cameron's government should present analyses by the Bank of England and independent economic forecasters, the Office for Budget Responsibility, at least 10 weeks before the vote is held. Last month, the Bank of England said it was planning to carry out such research.
"If there's going to be something so significant as 'Brexit'then we do need ... an independent view, an independent study of the costs and impact on jobs and the country's finances," a Labour spokesman said, using the term for a British EU exit.
Labour also called for a department-by-department analysis of the impact of a withdrawal on government responsibilities.
The proposals were put forward in amendments to legislation enabling the referendum to take place. That means Mr Cameron, who commands a parliamentary majority, could try to block the amendments if he disagrees with them.
The referendum law passed it first test in parliament on Tuesday by a resounding 544 votes to 53. But an emotional debate highlighted passions that could split Mr Cameron's Conservative Party and re-open Scotland's bid for independence.
"The bill is going through the house and MPs (lawmakers) will have the opportunity to make their views clear and to consider it," Mr Cameron's spokeswoman said when asked about the Labour amendments.