November 18, 2012 1:31 pm

Miliband backs ‘hard-headed’ realism on EU

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Ed Miliband©Charlie Bibby

Ed Miliband has promised Labour will adopt a “hard-headed” realism to its future approach to Europe, in a signal that he wants to move the party away from the strongly pro-European stance of Tony Blair’s last government.

Speaking ahead of an EU summit this week, Mr Miliband attempted to put Labour more in the political mainstream on Europe – a nod to the UK Indepedence party’s strong showing in Corby last week, it’s best ever by-election result.

“What I would say is: never shrink from being open about the problems of the European Union,” Mr Miliband told the Sunday Telegraph.

Labour this month called for cuts to the next seven-year EU budget – going further than the freeze that David Cameron will demand at this week’s European summit in Brussels.

But Mr Miliband’s insistence that the EU must work for Britain in areas such as immigration and business will also be seen as an attempt to show he is being tough on Europe while refusing to offer – for now – a referendum on the EU.

An Opinium/Observer poll on Sunday found that if a referendum on Britain’s EU membership was held tomorrow, 56 per cent would vote to leave, while only 30pc would vote to stay in.

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