Ed Miliband: Britain 'sleepwalking' into EU exit


Ed Miliband: "I will not let Britain sleepwalk towards exit from the European Union"

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Britain is "sleepwalking" into leaving the EU, which would undermine the UK's economy and leave it "voiceless and powerless," Ed Miliband has said.

The Labour leader argued that pro-Europeans could not turn a "blind eye" to the EU's failings.

A new approach should be based on "building alliances for change," he told the CBI conference.

But the Conservatives accused Labour of "opportunistic posturing" and not being "remotely credible" on the EU.

The prime minister, who is due to take part in EU budget talks this week, is also facing pressure within his own party, with Tory MP David Davis making a speech calling for a referendum that would allow the government to forge a new, looser relationship with Brussels.

Mr Davis said he would bet a "large sum of money" that the UK would leave the EU within a decade, without "maximum possible change" in the relationship with Brussels.

'Dangerous moment'

Last month, Labour MPs joined Tory rebels - including Mr Davis - to defeat the government on its strategy to push for a freeze in the EU budget, instead pushing for a real-terms cut between 2014 and 2020.

The prime minister insists that a freeze is more realistic, but he has threatened to use the UK's veto if the 5% rise proposed by the European Commission is not drastically reduced.

David Davis: "The federalist course the Eurozone powers have chosen is not one Britain should follow"

Labour's decision to vote for an EU budget cut was seen as evidence that the party is repositioning itself on Europe towards a more Eurosceptic position, but Mr Miliband said he "passionately believes that Britain is stronger in the European Union".

He warned the UK faced a "very dangerous moment" in its relationship with Europe and Mr Cameron, who has previously faced pressure from his own MPs to back an in/out referendum after the next election, was not working in the national interest.

Mr Miliband told the CBI conference in central London: "For more than three decades our membership of the European Union has seemed to be a settled question. Not any more. Public scepticism about European union has been on the rise for some time.

"Some cabinet ministers in this government now openly say that we would be better off outside the EU.

"And many of our traditional allies in Europe clearly think that Britain is heading to the exit door.

"Those of us, like me, who passionately believe that Britain is stronger in the European Union cannot be silent in a situation like this.

"I will not allow our country to sleepwalk toward exit because it would be a betrayal of our national interest."

Mr Miliband stressed the importance of being part of the single market for British businesses, which do 60% of their trade with EU members.

"If we left the EU it would be the United States, China, the European Union in the negotiating room - and Britain in the overflow room.

"We would end up competing on low-wages and low-skills: an off-shore low-value economy, a race to the bottom," he said.


The Labour leader argued the case for the EU was not served by ignoring the institution's "failings", adding that said the case for continued involvement had to be made "in a new way", rather than treating it as an "article of faith".

Instead, he argued for an approach based on "building alliances" with like-minded countries, based on plans for jobs and growth, reforming the EU budget, completing the single market and changing rules on competition.

But David Cameron described himself as a "good European", a "sensible, pragmatic British politician", who had "the people of Europe on his side" for campaigning for a tighter EU budget this week.

The prime minister told the CBI it "wasn't credible" to have cuts at home but then see the EU budget "going up and up", which he compared to "picking the pockets" of Europe's citizens.

Ken Clarke, the minister without portfolio and one of the most pro-European members of the government, accused Mr Miliband of acting "opportunistically", by voting with "extreme Eurosceptics" over the EU budget.

And Conservative chairman Grant Shapps said: "In a speech to business, Ed Miliband had the chance to detail how he'd deal with the deficit that Labour left behind. Instead, what we got was opportunistic posturing on Europe which isn't remotely credible."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    As we are no allowed a say on the conflict in Israel Im gonna do it anyway (I do pay my license fee BBC) Does anyone else find it absolutely terrifying that Tony Blair is anywhere near it !

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    You know all that money we spend on the EU, lets leave the EU and spend that money on UK businesses, reestablish manufacturing and have the aim of the UK being self efficient.

    We don't need the EU we can exist without.

    We will still be able to do business with them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    376.Some Lingering Fog

    So there you have it, a vote for Labour is a vote for Europe.

    No one should be in any doubt.
    Mr Cameron is Pro EU. Mr Miliband is pro EU. Mr Clegg is ultra pro EU. Joe Public are not Pro EU. More proof that our leaders are out of touch with Joe Public.

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    Mess 382
    "If they (Norway and Sweden) have most of the disadvantages but few of the advantages, why do they stay out?" (of the EU)

    Because they like to control their own borders.
    This way they are not flooded with poorer immigrant workers nor with foreigners buying up their property.

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    The new age will be that of the big countries and the groupings of smaller ones. who don't want to be dependents. We are not a big country; what other grouping is there but the continent to which we belong through history and culture? Europe has clearly not yet got it right. Are we to run away into dependence or take part in forging a better Europe? There's no alternative. Who else would want us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    @391.sydultra, why will it? europe needs the UK as much as we need them, the UK will not be kicked out despite some comments to the contrary from the new members, and moaners like France.

    I'm all for a referendum if it will put an end to this bickering by all parties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband need to stop going on and on about in or out of the EU, both of you for once and for all give the people a referendum IN OR OUT OF THE EU, just a simple ballot paper, then listen to the people and accept the vote and move on as directed.
    Thank you

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    " I want UK to remain an independent sovereign nation free of the spiders web of interference in our national life that has been spun by Brussels."
    Concrete examples please, not tabloid, EuroOuts or UKIP propaganda..

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    This is a timely warning. It will be cold, dark and dangerous on our own looking in to the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    So now we should tow the line and stay in the biggest talk shop in Europe that lives in another world just like most politians. Milliband certainly blows with the wind or, is bag of it.
    Europe needs someone to hold their feet to the fire to remind them of the real world and understand the word NO.
    Let that be the UK and if they don't like it....TOUGH deal with it EU or shut.
    Referendum please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    I bet any money you like, if Joe Public were offered a chance to vote on whether or not to leave the EU, there would be a lot more than 15% turnout unlike one reason type of election we had recently!

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    " Most of us are fed up with the UK expecting to be treated as different."!
    I think you'll will find all the nations want to be treated differently when something affects them. France with CAP ? Spain with Fishing Policy? Germany veto'ing Euro Bonds?

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    We need the EU even if its just for the simple reason that we are a democracy, making ALL people equal. including the poor and handicapped. All I have seen this Government do is to make life harder for these people and let the wealthy get even more greedy. I agree the EU needs to realise that at this time they need to be more frugal, but keep people working to assist in sharing wealth creation ..

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    Leaving the EU is a bit like capital punishment.

    If you give the people a referendum they would probably vote for it but then regret it later.

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    we are supposed to live in a democracy, and if the people want to leave the EU then that's what we'll do.

    A democracy is government by the people, not knee jerk reaction by and manipulation of the people.
    If the majority were persuaded to take up human sacrifice, should we all have to accept it or should there be something in place to stop it? Representational democracy maybe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    We were told by that nice Mr Heath and that other nice person Mr.Wilson, that we were joining a Common marfket.

    It never will be, the beurocrats took it over, and all it is now is feeding trough for anyone who can take advantage of the situation.

    The quicker we are out the better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    I love the comments about the Euro. It has it's problems (the world has been in recession). Despite all of its problems it has still done far better than the pound. The Exchange rate has dropped by about 25% since the Euro was introduced.
    As a European myself I would say that the UK should decide if it wants to be in or out. Most of us are fed up with the UK expecting to be treated as different.

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.


    "Norway and Switzerland pay £100s of millions each year to take part, and have to comply with all the red tape but have no say"

    This point has been made a few times. I at this point am neither pro- nor anti-EU, so I ask this question from a point of neutrality: If they have most of the disadvantages, but few of the advantages, of being outside the EU, why do they stay out?

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    If this clown is in favour of staying in then it's a no-brainer we should get out as soon as possible.


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