Exclusive: Miliband dismisses Ukip threat to North

Labour leader Ed Miliband
Labour leader Ed Miliband
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ED Miliband has dismissed the growing threat of Ukip to Labour’s Northern heartlands as he insisted his party will not change its message for the coming European and local elections.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, the Labour leader laughed off the “confident predictions” emanating from the UK Independence Party, where strategists insist they are eating into Labour’s core vote with tough messages on Europe and immigration.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage yesterday agreed to a public debate on the EU with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg ahead of May’s Euro elections, and called on Mr Miliband and Prime Minister David Cameron to follow suit.

But Mr Miliband said his priority is to ensure Mr Cameron agrees to another series of three-way leader debates just before next year’s general election. “David Cameron is running scared of that,” the Labour leader said. “I want to land him for those debates before we worry about other debates.”

Mr Miliband was dismissive of suggestions Labour will be forced to shift its stance on issues such as Europe in the face of Ukip’s mounting threat. “No, absolutely not,” he said. “What we will do is talk about the things that matter to us. We will let others take care of themselves – we’ll worry about ourselves and getting our message across.”

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