THE UK is “sleepwalking to a European Union exit”, Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed yesterday, as he challenged Prime Minister David Cameron to take on senior Cabinet members who are calling for a referendum.
The comment came as Mr Cameron reported back to the Commons on the latest Brussels summit where progress was made on European banking union to support the beleaguered euro. The Labour leader went on the attack after Downing Street let it be known that Mr Cameron’s speech setting out his vision of the UK’s relationship with the European Union had been delayed until the middle of January.
Mr Miliband said the Prime Minister should clamp down on senior ministers voicing their opinions on whether the UK should pull out of the EU.
The Labour leader told MPs: “Why does he let member after member of his own Cabinet brief they are open to leaving the EU, including most recently the Education Secretary?
“The drift in his party and the direction of his policy mean we are sleepwalking towards exit.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague previously said an in/out poll was “the wrong question at the wrong time” and would create economic uncertainty, while Education Secretary Michael Gove is thought to believe the UK should reclaim its sovereignty. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said the current balance of powers is “not right”.
During yesterday’s statement, Mr Cameron was asked if he could envisage the UK leaving the EU. He said: “It is not a position I support, so I don’t spend my time thinking about it. But clearly all futures for Britain are imaginable. We are in charge of our own destiny. We can make our own choices.
“I believe we should stay in the European Union, as members of the single market, maximising our impact in Europe, but where we’re unhappy with the relationship, we should not be frightened of saying so.”