Ed Miliband will today bid to fix his strained relationship with business leaders by assuring a CBI conference that, if elected to Downing Street, he will quash any threat of the UK leaving the European Union.
The speech comes as the Labour leader faces growing unrest from within his own party. While senior colleagues are yet to officially break ranks, murmurings of discontent over Miliband’s leadership style have been getting louder.
Despite a lack of consensus among business leaders over Europe, groups such as the CBI have voiced concern over the threat of a so-called Brexit. Miliband argues the Conservatives would march the UK out of Brussels, an outcome that he says would be disastrous for business.
Writing in City A.M. Miliband said: “Our European allies throw their hands up in despair at the combination of insults, blackmail and detachment that comes from Downing Street.”
And Miliband is expected to say in his speech to the CBI: “Every nod and wink to those who want to leave sends a message to potential investors in our country that we are not open for business. “If I am Prime Minister I will never risk your businesses, British jobs, British prosperity by playing political games with our membership of the European Union.”
Yet Matthew Elliott of eurosceptic group Business for Britain said firms would not be impressed. “Miliband is utterly wrong if he thinks ducking a referendum is somehow a pro-business position,” Elliott said. “Shamelessly avoiding a referendum to shore up flagging business credentials will do the opposition leader no good.”
Miliband’s speech comes after a turbulent week for the Labour leader. A senior Labour shadow cabinet source told City A.M.: “There has been a debate going on behind the scenes for a long time. Senior shadow cabinet members are grumbling that Ed doesn’t use them more. People are mouthing off behind the scenes. It has been prompted to an extent by the reshuffle and Ed promoting Lucy Powell to his inner circle, which is already seen as a bunker of Ed’s closest allies, alienating those on the outside.”