Labour repositions itself on Europe by supporting EU budget cuts
The former foreign secretary, David Miliband, has sprung to the defence of the Labour party by saying that it has not become “anti-Europe” but is simply no longer “soft-headed” when it comes to increasing budgets during difficult economic times.
The Conservatives have led the way in branding Labour as hypocrites. While this week Labour called for cuts to the EU budget, while it was in government the centre-left party continued to increase the money going into the EU budget.
However, Mr Miliband, together with other Labour politicians, has proclaimed that we live in a different time now than a few years ago when the economy was growing. David Miliband has said that due to austerity cuts all across Europe, it was common sense to also cut the EU budget.
Labour joined with Conservative rebels on Wednesday to defy the government by asking David Cameron to push for a real-terms cut in the EU’s 2014-2020 budget in future negotiations, rather than a real-terms freeze.
Some Labour politicians are unhappy with their party’s view on this issue. Former minister Margaret Hodge has claimed that Labour aligning itself with Tory eurosceptics was “outrageous”.
But David Miliband, who was one of the guests on Question Time yesterday evening, has replied by saying: “The world has changed since 2005, we have had a global financial crisis. We need to cut our deficit at home and we also need to make sure we cut spending in Europe as well.”
He added: “I think there has been a real problem for pro-Europeans like me. We have seemed like we always wanted more spending, we seemed like we were soft-headed about more spending.
“What you have got is a repositioning in the Labour Party – not to go from being pro-Europe to anti-Europe, but to take on this idea that to be pro-European you are always for more spending.”
He concluded by claiming: “We are not always for more spending. We are for a more effective European Union.”