UK Politics

Miliband attacks David Cameron over EU referendum stance

Labour leader Ed Miliband has restated his opposition to David Cameron's position on an EU referendum.

Speaking to the Labour group Progress, he said the PM was "hiding behind the sofa" too scared to confront his party.

It was extraordinary, he said, for Mr Cameron to be relaxed about his own MPs voting against the Queen's Speech.

Eurosceptic MPs have tabled an amendment regretting the omission of a referendum bill from the government's legislative programme.

If Commons Speaker John Bercow selects the amendment it will be debated next week.

Labour is expected to oppose the motion.

Explaining the decision, Mr Miliband said: "It is wrong now to commit to an in/out referendum and have four years of uncertainty and a 'closed for business' sign above our country."

After Mr Cameron committed to a post-election referendum in January, Mr Miliband told the Commons he did not want an in/out referendum.

Labour aides later stressed he was opposing the decision to signal a referendum now, not ruling out the possibility of a referendum in the future. His comments earlier on Saturday repeat that position.

In February, shadow chancellor Ed Balls said Labour had absolutely not ruled out a referendum and it would be stupid to allow itself to become the "status quo party" on Europe, or the "anti-referendum party".

Mr Miliband said: "What an extraordinary spectacle of a government that says it is relaxed about its own MPs voting against their own Queen's Speech. I know David Cameron is a man who likes to be known for a bit of relaxing, even chillaxing, but on this occasion, it beggars belief.

"He's not lying on the sofa, relaxed. He's hiding behind the sofa, too scared to confront his party and provide the leadership the country needs."

Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps said: "David Cameron will give the British people their say on our future in Europe in an in-out referendum in the next parliament.

"But Ed Miliband has once again made clear he will never trust the British people to have their say - he opposes a referendum. He is too weak to stand up for the British people at home and too weak to stand up for our country's interests abroad."

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