David Miliband calls on Jeremy Corbyn not to be 'half-hearted' on EU

Posted On: 
3rd June 2016

David Miliband has called on the Labour party not to be "half-hearted" about Britain staying in the EU amid concerns about Jeremy Corbyn's commitment to the campaign.

David Miliband is campaigning for a Remain vote on 23 June
PA Images

The former Cabinet minister's remarks come just a day after the Labour leader launched an outspoken attack on the economic arguments underpinning the Remain strategy.

Mr Corbyn poured scorn on George Osborne's claim that Brexit would plunge the UK into a year-long recession, while also hitting out at the "prophecies of doom" being put forward by both sides of the debate.

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His speech caused many observers to question whether Mr Corbyn - who was a long-standing eurosceptic before becoming Labour boss last year - was doing all he could to keep Britain in the EU.

Writing for The Times' Red Box today, Mr Miliband said: "In 2006 David Cameron called on the Conservative Party to 'stop banging on about Europe'. The Tory trap was to be obsessed with Europe. As the referendum debate shows, the schisms are deep and personal.

"Labour’s trap is different. It is to be half-hearted about Europe. In 1962 Hugh Gaitskell answered Yes or No to the Common Market by saying 'If…'. There is no room for such hesitation today."

The former MP, now head of an international charity, said Labour should be making the "progressive, positive and patriotic case" against Brexit, pointing out that the EU helps to improve the lives of millions of workers.

He also insisted he is happy to share a platform with David Cameron on the issue - something ruled out by both Mr Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

"I have been happy to share a platform with the Prime Minister to make the case for Britain’s membership of the EU," he said. "Where centre-right and centre-left agree, we should say so.

"But we also have something distinctive to say, and we should say it. That is why I am campaigning to rally a strong Labour vote in a cause that speaks to our hearts as well as our heads."