Miliband picks election battle over EU role

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Foreign Secretary David Miliband firmly ruled himself out of contention for the role of European foreign minister today, saying he wanted to "stay and fight" the general election.

Mr Miliband has been consistently tipped, despite repeated insistence he was not a candidate, to take the new post of High Representative created by the Lisbon Treaty.

European leaders will gather next week to make that appointment and name the European Council's first president.

But Mr Miliband repeated his rejection of the post today, saying: "I came into politics to serve the British people in Britain."

Speaking after talks with German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, he added: "I am committed to Britain and I am committed to the Labour Government.

"There will be a general election in this country within a matter of months. It is a massive choice for the country.

"And so when the choice came to me about whether to stay in Britain or leave Britain, there was only one answer: it is to stay and fight for the kind of Britain I believe in."

Mr Miliband added: "That's very, very clear in my mind and I don't think there should be room for any doubt in yours."

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson - a former EU commissioner - also insisted that he was not interested in the post of high representative.

"It is not a job I want to do," he told the BBC.

"I want to remain a member of the British Government, serving the British people. I had my spell in Brussels, now I am home for good.

"I am not going to leave British politics. I am home and I am here to stay."