Labour party allies rally round Ed Miliband
Senior Labour figures dismissed claims of a plot to oust Ed Miliband as they rallied round the embattled party leader yesterday.
Mr Miliband will today attempt to get back on the front foot with an attack on Prime Minister David Cameron’s European policy, claiming it is placing millions of jobs at risk.
But the Labour leader has faced a turbulent few days amid reports of plots, including claims that 20 shadow ministers are poised to call on him to quit.
Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock insisted yesterday that Mr Miliband’s position is not under threat, while Caroline Flint, the shadow energy minister, said the Labour leader had managed to pull the party together to focus on the issues affecting the country.
Ms Flint said: “Some of my colleagues are having jitters and part of that is that we’ve always said that this is not a done deal, this election, this is going to be hard fought, and we said that from 2010 and Ed has been saying it since he was elected our leader.
“We have to fight for the right to represent the country in Westminster.”
Mr Miliband is today expected to try to put speculation over his leadership behind him by attacking Tory plans for a referendum on the UK’s EU membership in a speech to the CBI.
He is expected to say: “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.
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“It is a betrayal of our national interest. It is a clear and present danger to our future prosperity.”
Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock admitted the headlines about Mr Miliband are “serious” but dismissed the “so-called threat” to his leadership as unsubstantial because it has come from anonymous sources.
He described Mr Miliband as a leader of courage and resilience, adding: “He’s not in danger from the Labour Party or anybody in the Labour Party because, whilst today’s headlines are serious, obviously, it wouldn’t be on the front page of every newspaper otherwise, the so-called threat, and I emphasise so-called, is certainly not substantial. Not only because all of the sources so-called of the threat are common in their anonymity and cowardice and as far as I can see their tendency towards political suicide, but because there is no real substance in what they are saying and the claims that they are making insofar as you can identify them are totally unjustifiable.”
A YouGov poll yesterday found that only 34 per cent of people who voted Labour at the last general election believe Mr Miliband is up to the job of prime minister, compared to 51 per cent a month ago.
Former home secretary Alan Johnson, among the frontrunners tipped to replace Mr Miliband, ruled out any challenge at the weekend.
He said: “I am not keen to do it. We can win with Ed as leader and I can help him do that.
“That is why I’m staying on because there is a lot to be done and there is hope for the future if we can regain the trust of the British people.”
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper dismissed reports they intended to present a joint platform in the event of a leadership vacancy.
Lucy Powell, who Mr Miliband made vice-chairman of the general election campaign in the reshuffle earlier this week, hit out at plotters.
She said: “Either show us your colours and put names to quotes or let’s just move on and have a different conversation.”
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