Like I said earlier, the Finns would have to be the last man left in the EU, hesitating turning out the lights. Any talk of referendum (which I whole heartedly agree with) is pure fantasy, they won’t leave.

NCP’s Orpo: Finns Party EU referendum talk “irresponsible”

Newly-minted National Coalition Party chair Petteri Orpo has taken the Finns Party to task for proposing a Brexit-style EU referendum in Finland. Orpo, who also took over the post of Finance Minister after dethroning Alexander Stubb, said that such talk from a member of the government coalition will undermine the country’s economic outlook and could threaten fledgling signs of growth.

Petteri Orpo
Petteri Orpo Image: Petteri Paalasmaa / AOP

The aftermath of the UK’s vote to break out of the EU has seen calls for similar referenda among Eurosceptic political parties across Europe.

The Finns Party joined the chorus, with its youth wing clamouring for a similar vote and parliamentary group leader Sampo Terho telling national broadcaster Yle that a referendum would be “a realistic option” for Finland.

Finns Party youth wing chair Sebastian Tynkkynen wasted no time setting up a citizen’s initiative calling for a vote to withdraw from the EU. On Monday alone, the petition gathered 5,000 signatures and support crossed the 20,000-mark Tuesday evening.

However freshly-anointed National Coalition party chair Petteri Orpo condemned moves from within the Finns Party camp to manuoevre an EU referendum in Finland.

“I consider this referendum discussion irresponsible. Every time we talk like this in Finland and it comes from the ranks of a governing party, it impacts negatively on our outlook, development, fragile incipient economic growth and investment decisions. It’s because of this that I believe that we shouldn’t have this kind of talk,” Orpo told Yle in Brussels Tuesday.

Orpo: Coalition has three more years in office

Orpo, who is also Finance Minister, said that government is united on the issue of not organising a referendum. He said that coalition partners should also consider that the government still has another three years in office and that the current government programme has positioned Finland as an active member of the European Union.

“We have a common position among government ministers on how we see Brexit and how we will go forward. I’m referring to the government programme,” Orpo added.

However the NCP chair would not be drawn into commenting on whether or not Finns Party leader Timo Soini should exercise greater control over his party.

“I will not comment on their internal affairs,” he remarked.

PM Sipilä also rules out popular vote

Orpo said that it is not his intention to stifle debate.

“But we are in the same government, we have a clearly written government programme,” he stressed, adding that his party were staunch supporters of EU membership.

“In my opinion Finland’s position is such that we should absolutely be actively involved in developing the European Union. It is essential for us from an economic, employment and growth perspective. The EU is also a security community to which we belong. This is quite clear to me,” Orpo continued.

Attending the Brussels summit of EU leaders gathering to consider a way forward following the Brexit vote, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä reiterated that there would be no Finnish referendum on EU membership.

“For me the answer has been clear that it [a referendum] won’t be organised. We have voted on it once and we Finns believe in one time,” Sipilä said.

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