Ed Miliband: Referendum on Britain's EU membership will damage business
The Labour Party leader also said Britain was 'sleepwalking' into an EU exit
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 19 November 2012
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has warned that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union will prevent businesses investing in the country.
Mr Miliband dismissed calls for a vote on Britain’s future in the 27-nation bloc during an address to business leaders in London today. He claimed that Britain was “sleepwalking” into an exit from the EU and that doing so would scupper hopes of an economic recovery.
“The question for now is should we have a referendum now? My answer to that is no,” he told delegates at the CBI annual conference.
“To spend our time now debating whether to exit the European Union would threaten recovery. Think about a business considering coming to Britain. What would they think if there was a referendum now?”
The leader of the opposition accepted that pro-Europeans could not turn a “blind eye” to the EU’s failings.
His comments came ahead of key European budget talks where Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to call for a freeze in EU spending. However, with Germany backing a small increase in spending, it is feared that the summit could break up without agreement “I will fight your corner for Britain to remain in the EU And I will fight your corner to reform it,” Mr Mr Miliband added.
“An ambitious Britain has always been an outward looking Britain. An inward-looking Britain, can never be an ambitious Britain. Reforming the European Union will be difficult, will require building alliances, will have its frustrations. But I am certain it is better than leaving.”
Herman Van Rompuy, memorably ridiculed as having “all the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk” by the Eurosceptic Ukip leader Nigel Farage, has threatened to keep Europe’s leaders in Brussels for as long as it takes over this weekend to reach a budget deal.
When Mr Van Rompuy became the European Council’s first full-time President, many Labour MPs were disappointed that the post had not gone to Tony Blair.
But the former Belgian prime minister has impressed many in Brussels with his calm performance at the helm during the continuing turbulence in the Eurozone.
His reputation for achieving consensus dates back to his time in culturally and linguistically divided Belgium. It will be sorely tested when 27 EU leaders – each with their own priorities for EU spending – gather in Van Rompuy’s home town in two days’ time.
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Alwaleed bin Talal: Saudi Prince to donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
- 5 Mystery sea creature - with 'fur' and 'a beak' - washes up on remote Russian beach, baffling scientists
The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck divorce: Memorable quotes from one of Hollywood's most scrutinised couples
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
Alwaleed bin Talal: Saudi Prince to donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...
£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you starting out in PR? Do...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist historic buildi...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Luxury Jeweller and Accessories - Retail Sale...