Miliband targets business as election campaign starts

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Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned of “at least two years of uncertainty” if the Conservatives seek a referendum on EU membership.

Mr Miliband kick-started Labour’s election campaign in the City with a pitch to business leaders.

Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband

As the Prime Minister prepared to go to the palace for the start of the election, Mr Miliband set out why he remained committed to EU membership fro the UK.

Mr Miliband said a Conservative plan for a referendum would only create uncertainty, though he admitted the EU needed reforming.

Accusing David Cameron of caving in to an increasingly exit-friendly party to promise a public vote by 2017, he warned of the potential for an “extraordinary loss of British influence”.

“There could be nothing worse for our country or for our great exporting businesses than playing political games with our membership in Europe,” said Mr Miliband.

“I want to be clear about what is at stake in this election for British business - David Cameron promises a referendum on an arbitrary timetable, after a set of negotiations on treaty changes which require the agreement of 27 other member states.

“He promises a vote on our membership of the European Union organised by a divided Conservative Party, over half of whom want to leave, and a Prime Minister who doesn’t seem to know his own mind.

“And, at the same time, he promises a leadership contest in the Conservative Party to succeed him when candidates will be vying against each other for who can be the most extreme on Europe.

“It is a recipe for two years of uncertainty in which inward investment will drain away, two years of chaos in which businesses will not be able to plan for the future, and two years of wasted opportunities for progress, for profit, for prosperity: a clear and present danger to British jobs, British business and British prosperity.”

Labour is publishing a series of “mini-manifestos” on key battleground policy areas throughout the campaign, starting today with A Better Plan For Business.

The foreword, signed by Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna, says the party’s plan “is based on a simple idea: that Britain and British business succeed when working people succeed”.

According to the 22-page document, the “central task” for an incoming Labour-led administration would be “to back British businesses to create the high-skilled, high-wage jobs we need to raise living standards”.

Prominent in the policy package is one stance that Mr Miliband believes is popular with business: a pledge not to hold an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU unless there is a proposal to transfer new powers to Brussels.

Business policies include a promise to continue HS2 high-speed rail project “while taking clear steps to ensure costs are kept down”

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