‘Not decided yet’: David Miliband hints at political comeback

Read More

The former foreign secretary David Miliband has fuelled speculation that he is preparing a political comeback in Britain after he said nothing had yet been decided on his return and delivered a set piece foreign policy speech urging the UK to make greater cooperation with the EU.

Miliband lost the Labour leadership to his brother Ed in 2010 and resigned from the shadow cabinet. He stood down as an MP and moved to New York in late 2013 with his family to act as the chief executive of the International Rescue Committee.

There has been on/off speculation that he would return to British politics, but his family has settled in New York and it would be a wrench for the family to return.

But Miliband is a close ally of the shadow foreign secretary David Lammy and feels at ease with Keir Starmer’s leadership. No plan has yet been made about where he would seek a seat.

When LBC’s Andrew Marr put it to Miliband that he would return to UK politics before the next election, he replied: “That has not been decided yet. That has not been done.”

In his speech at Chatham House he focused on the UK’s tarnished foreign policy influence in a multi-polar world saying: “It’s a bad moment for Britain’s global standing to be at a low ebb. Recent governments have responded well to the Ukraine crisis.

“Our intelligence was right and our armed forces have added value. But it is hard to think of other areas where we have earned credit, and there are too many where we have invited scorn. Britain has frankly gone awol on the issue of humanitarian aid.

“We are paying the price of comforting but ill-informed delusions. Hubris about our negotiating strength in the Brexit negotiations, our ability to defy the maths of budget and trade deficits, the willingness of Commonwealth countries to defer to British leadership, the unlimited bounty of negotiating our own trade deals. That hubris, our right to sit and pontificate from the top table, is the wrong mindset.”

In the US he said the UK had recently been regarded with “sadness and pity, as well as laughter.

“We need honesty. Our influence abroad – based on pragmatism, legality, responsibility and commitment – has been badly tarnished. We need to stop shouting GREAT Britain, and start rebuilding it,” he said.

He said successive Conservative foreign secretaries, and potentially the Biden administration in the US, had been mistaken in offering the west as a beacon of democracy.

Miliband said: “A framing of democracy versus autocracy does not speak coherently to international affairs. Nor does it speak to concerns outside the west about the mistakes of democratic countries. Nor does it appeal to countries that are not fully functioning democracies with whom we must work to address global challenges. Nor does it put autocracies on the spot.

“The better alternative is to stand against impunity in international relations and put ourselves on the side of accountability.”

Although he accepted Brexit as a fact, and made no proposal to rejoin the EU single market, Miliband said repairing “our EU relationship is vital geopolitically as well as to our domestic economic repair job. Our European neighbours are more like us than any other continent in this world. In a world where blocs matter we need to recognise where our interests lie.”

He went on: “Brexit is a fact. But it did not need to be as bad as this. And foreign policy offers a prime area where we must forge a common ground with the EU. We should be all-in on European political cooperation and the same on energy security.

“We should be cooperating with the EU on security and defence, and trying to help bridge EU and Nato. We should be shoulder to shoulder with the EU on climate. The current government has highlighted a common European approach to migration. Fine. That should include minimum standards for refugees and asylum seekers.”

He called for the UK to reprioritise its international budgets, saying “we could double our intelligence and diplomacy budgets for the same cost as a 10 per cent increase in the defence budget”.

Related articles

You may also be interested in


Never Miss A Story

Get our Weekly recap with the latest news, articles and resources.
Cookie policy

We use our own and third party cookies to allow us to understand how the site is used and to support our marketing campaigns.