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 640.

    #622 BLACK_PEARL

    Wriggle as much as you like. But ask anyone "who is putting windmills up?" - and the answer will be the govt.

    It is actually a great big subsidy for the landowners.
    Yes your spot on. £45k yr rent to rich land owners total rip off.
    + EU farming subsidies. & we pay
    BUT LABOUR started it all. Millibands stupid EU backed 2009 Climate Act AGAINST NATURE

  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    Until we get a vote on the Euripean parliament I for one will never accept it. We only had a vote for trade purposes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    #622 BLACK_PEARL

    Wriggle as much as you like. But ask anyone "who is putting windmills up?" - and the answer will be the government.
    That's right the condemn government giving grant money to their landowner friends. And the grant money comes from folk paying leccy bills

    All a nice little subsidy for the landowners.

    Sorry, I got that wrong.

    It is actually a great big subsidy for the landowners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    Quite understandably there is a fair amount of emotion over this issue. If it were to come to an in/out referendum, two questions regarding an exit that should be considered are: who Britain would form trading relations with and who Britain would ally itself with politically. Without answers to these questions, a withdrawl from the EU would, most likely, be a step into the unknown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    One minute Millipede is criticising Cameron because he didn't insist future EU budgets were cut, the next he criticises Cameron because the UKs relations with the EU are not close enough.

    What does he think demanding EU budget cuts would do for EU relations?

    The mans a buffoon. How can the labour party be taken seriously with him in charge?

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    We have a colossal trade deficit with the EU, no doubt they will be happy to keep trading with us.

    Norway and Switzerland manage in the EEA, we could too.

    The list of reasons to be out is large and clear, the reasons to be in is small and fragile. The only intangible is the 'influence' argument and I see precious little of that and am pretty sure what influence we have is bought far too dear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.


    France is totally unlike Sweden. Germany is about as much like Italy as chalk is to cheese. If you can find much about Finland that reminds you of Spain I'd be surprised. Britain and e.g. Latvia are worlds apart.

    Vivent les différences - but trying to weld them into one political federation and expecting any sort of one size to fit all economy or legal set up is nonsensical.

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    629.Knut Largerson
    With a voter turn out of 15%, a referendum would be meaningless.
    Not if we voted the wrong way. We'd be asked to vote again till we voted the right way. Only then it would be meaningless.

  • Comment number 632.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    626 Black Pearl you are another scurilous right winger trying to turn history on it's head with your childish National Socialist semantics.
    Socialism is Internationalist and Multicultural, show me where Karl Marx preached Racial Purity ?
    Also, are we to believe that Hitler who put Trade unionists in Prison and Communists in Concentration Camps did so because he followed Marx who was.. a Jew ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    Out of interest has Milliband actually spoken to anyone in europe since the french are rather stubborn in there refusal to allow any sort of change (common agricultural policy) to the point that they say they will veto any budget that does include change to the CAP.

    Strange how Britain threatening a veto is totally wrong yet the French threatening it if anyone talks about changing CAP is okay

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.

    With a voter turn out of 15%, a referendum would be meaningless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    Labour are totally wedded to the EU, at any price. Look at their union links and look at their track record of waiving through massive budget increases for Brussels. And Labour would do exactly the same if ever reelected. At least the Tories do a good job of keeping Brussels on a tight rein.

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    Poor old Ed is having to contort himself in knots, sounding on-message to his own pro-EU party, while at the same time trying to be on-side of an increasing anti-EU populace. Even Labour supporters seem more inclined currently to favour leaving the EU than staying in, according to today's Grauniad poll. I wonder what Ed will think next week or next month.

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    The Tories will be voted out at the next election so I can't see the UK leaving the EU for many years.
    Yes it will end up as one big Socialist State going down the plug hole like all socialist states before it.
    Hitler seen himself as a socialist in charge of his Social Democratic Party.

    621 Clive Hamilton.. "Words of Wisdom"
    623. Spot on .... we are a net contributer

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    Oh this tiresome "It was Labour this, that and the other" diatribe Is quite hilarious.
    These Tory/UKIP voters feel compelled to insert such Ad Hominem at every possible conjuncture in the hope that some floating voter should by chance stumble into this forum to be Sonic Boomed with a Far Right Wing Epiphany. LOL !

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    That being the case, it's a pity we didn't fall asleep years ago; we would have been out of it by now and better off as well.
    There might have been more jobs for 'our' young people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    This is pretty rich from the party who rolled over and let the EU fleece us on a regular basis.Remember it wasn't so long when Dave veto'd the Eurozone bail out package that Mr Millipede was wailing and gnashing saying we would be sidelined and weak. Were we hell. Let's remember that we are a big donator and minimal take out. We have more power than those wimps believe

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    #609. BLACK_PEARL

    So this govt pollutes the land with wind mills and then Little Englanders pollute the land with fracking fluids?

    Suits big companies down to the ground. And underneath.

    Hardly a long term solution is it?
    Its not this Govt that polluted the land with Wind Turbines it was LABOUR the destroyer & the stupid EU based 2009 Climate Act against nature.

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    All of this talk abou the pros and cons of Europe are completely irrelevent UNLESS the EU takes off its blinkers and looks to Brazril, China and India - all of these countries are independent and are not rules by mad paper pushing, rule making idiots.

    I fear for the future of my children.

    The future is not Europe in charge - its about European countries surviving and as "one" I can;t see it


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