Britain must stay in the European Union, Ed Miliband says today.
The Labour leader says Tory plans for a referendum on membership of the EU are wrong and threaten to undermine business confidence in Britain as a partner in trade.
His comments come as it emerged that Labour MPs will be ordered to oppose a Commons motion criticising the lack of a referendum Bill in the Queen’s Speech.
In his first direct response to the renewed debate on a referendum in the wake of Ukip’s success in last week’s elections, Mr Miliband will say that Labour will “always stand up for the national interest”.
“Our national interest lies in staying in the European Union and working for the changes that will make it work better for Britain,” he will tell the annual conference of Progress, a New Labour pressure group.
“It is wrong now to commit to an in/out referendum and have four years of uncertainty and a ‘closed for business’ sign above our country.”
The Labour leader will claim that the success of Ukip in the council elections demonstrates widespread public disillusionment with mainstream politics.
However, Ukip is a party of protest, he will say, while Labour must be a party “of solutions”.
Labour MPs will be told next week to vote against a motion criticising the Queen’s Speech for failing to mention a Bill allowing a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
More than 100 Conservative MPs including ministers are said to be ready to back the motion. The Prime Minister is said to be “relaxed” about the move and has even indicated that he would consider supporting it, and voting against his own legislative programme as outlined in the Queen’s Speech.
Mr Miliband claims such a move was unprecedented and shows Mr Cameron to be “weak and panicked”.
“I know David Cameron is a man who likes to be known for relaxing - even chillaxing – but, on this occasion, it beggars belief.
“He’s not lying on the sofa, relaxed. He’s hiding behind the sofa, too scared to confront his own MPs.”
In his speech, the Labour leader will say that the policies Labour pursued on immigration while in government were not always right.
A “diverse, multi-ethnic Britain” is “one of things that makes our country great”, he will say.
“But we have to make sure our diversity works for everyone, not just for a few at the top, and that requires government to play its role: in managing the pace of change, preventing exploitation at the workplace and ensuring we integrate as a country.”