UK 'sleepwalking' out of EU, says Miliband
The United Kingdom is sleepwalking its way out of the European Union, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is expected to warn today, on foot of an opinion poll which found that fewer than one-third of British voters would opt to remain in the union.
“For more than three decades, our membership of the European Union has seemed to be a settled question. Not any more,” Mr Miliband is expected to tell the Confederation of British Industry, where he is due to deliver a strong call for the UK to stay in.
“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,” according to a draft of his speech.
Prime minister David Cameron can no longer “make decisions in the national interest”, as he is being forced by the increase in Eurosceptic opinion in the Conservative Party “to act in his party’s interests”.
Earlier this month, Labour combined with Conservative rebels in a House of Commons vote to demand that, in talks in Brussels between EU leaders this week, the EU’s seven-year budget from 2014 should be cut, even though such a result is seen as nearly impossible.
Mr Miliband is expected to say: “We cannot afford to use up our energies and alliances on negotiations that will not deliver. Just as with the veto that wasn’t last December, it will undermine our status abroad and our position at home – increasing frustration and the drive to the exit.”
He is expected to point to the number of foreign investors, such as Nissan and Toyota based in the UK: “[They] didn’t come to Britain for a low-wage, low-skill economy.
“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 offshore, low-value economy.”
An Opinium/Observer opinion poll yesterday reported 56 per cent of voters would support quitting the EU if a referendum was held tomorrow, while 30 per cent said they would vote to stay in.