UK Politics

Biggest Labour donor wants party to offer EU referendum

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Image caption The donation made by John Mills is worth more than twice what the Unite union gave in the same period

A leading supporter of re-negotiating the UK's position in the EU made the largest donation to the Labour Party in the first quarter of this year.

According to figures released by the Electoral Commission, John Mills, the chairman of Business for Britain, donated £1.65m in shares.

This was more than twice the amount given by the next biggest contributor, the Unite union.

Mr Mills is the brother-in-law of former Labour minister Tessa Jowell.

He is the founder and Chairman of JML, an online shopping and retail company and a long-time Labour member, who served as finance chief councillor on Camden Council until 2006.

He is the chairman of the Business for Britain group, which lobbies to re-negotiate Britain's relationship with the EU.

'Better deal'

Mr Mills also chairs the recently formed Labour for a Referendum group, which wants the party to commit to an in-out referendum on Europe.

Writing on the Labour Uncut website, said said: "To boost jobs and growth, British business has to be competitive, and it is with this aim in mind that Business for Britain is seeking a better EU deal to help pave the way towards economic prosperity."

Labour leader Ed Miliband has ruled out offering a referendum on the EU for the moment, but Labour For a Referendum argues that this will damage the party's prospects at the next election.

The group has 15 MPs as members, including Keith Vaz, Kate Hoey and John Cryer.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has also indicated that he supports the idea of a referendum.

After Mr Mills. next biggest donation made to the Labour in the first quarter of this year was £767,000 by the Unite union. In total the party received £3.68m.

The Conservatives raised £3.66m, the Liberal Democrats £843,000 and UKIP £74,000.