Ed Miliband to promise business chiefs he will never take Britain out of the EU

Ed Miliband will attempt to reach out to British business leaders when he offers a guarantee that a Labour government will “never risk” the economy by threatening to take Britain out of the EU.

As the home secretary, Theresa May, raises the prospect of life outside the EU, Miliband will tell the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry that Labour will never betray the national interest by putting the UK “on the conveyor belt towards exit”.

On Monday, the Labour leader will offer to form a partnership with business leaders in which a Labour government would guarantee the stability of continued EU membership in return for support for his plans to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

“If I am prime minister I will never risk your businesses, British jobs, British prosperity by playing political games with our membership of the EU,” he will tell the CBI. “We must change fundamentally the way our economy works so that it meets the basic aspirations of the British people for good jobs at decent wages, proper opportunity for the next generation, and a country that is seen to be fair. And I want to do this in partnership with you.”

In the Commons, there are signs the home secretary may manage to reduce a rebellion by backbench Tory MPs this afternoon on plans to opt back into a series of EU justice and home affairs measures, notably the European arrest warrant. Rebels, who had spoken of winning the support of up to 100 Tory MPs, are now saying that their numbers may be as low as 30, after the government limited the rebellion by staging the vote 10 days before the Rochester and Strood byelection.

The vote has to be held before Britain opts out of 130 justice and home affairs measures and then immediately opts back into 35 of them, including membership of Europol, on 1 December.

Some of the rebels are claiming that May has pulled off a parliamentary trick by holding a formal vote on just 11 of the 35 measures, excluding the European arrest warrant. The government says all 35 measures will be included within the scope of the motion to be put before MPs.

Rob Wainwright, the head of Europol, Europe’s law enforcement agency, warned that the UK fight against terrorists and major criminals would be damaged if MPs voted to leave the agency. He said: “It would weaken the UK’s ability to fight international organised crime, terrorism and serious cybercrime.”

May defended her decision to opt back into the European arrest warrant, saying it would help ensure rapists, murderers and terrorists faced trial. But she indicated on Sunday that she would be prepared to leave the EU if David Cameron failed to secure a good deal in renegotiations that will take place if he wins next year’s general election.

May wrote in the Sunday Telegraph: “I believe that the politicians who argue that we are better off in the EU, whatever the terms, are wrong. But I also believe that the politicians who argue that we are better off out, whatever the terms, are also wrong. Because if we can make Europe work differently – if we can work towards a more flexible union of sovereign member states who use treaties and institutions to trade freely and co-operate in the fight against crime and terrorism – it will surely be in our national interest to remain members of the EU.”

May’s comments were echoed in stronger terms by the business minister Matt Hancock, who said that Cameron’s pledge to hold an in/out referendum by 2017 would strengthen Britain’s hand in the negotiations by raising the prospect of an exit.

Hancock told Daily Politics on BBC1: “The fact that there is a referendum at the end of this negotiation helps to strengthen the hand of those who will negotiate, because everybody knows if you want to get the best price for your carpet you have to be prepared to walk out of the souk.”

Miliband will say that the Tories’ decision to “flirt” with a British exit is damaging as he promises to offer stability to businesses fearful the UK may leave the EU. But in return, he will demand support for his plans to address low wages.

He will say: “Mine is not an argument for no change or business as usual. That would simply make the forces demanding false solutions stronger not weaker. The answer is to directly address the discontent people feel, to understand the sources of the problems we face, and offer big change in our country. It is not our membership of the EU, but that globalisation – including immigration – have placed huge pressures on our country. Old jobs have gone, the chances for the next generation do seem worse than the last, and people don’t think the country is run in a fair way.”

Cameron will use his speech to the CBI to announce a five-year £15bn investment to upgrade motorways and trunk roads. The investment in 100 projects will lead to hundreds of miles of extra lane miles.

The prime minister will say: “In three weeks’ time you will see an autumn statement where we choose the future again. At its heart is the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching road improvement programme in four decades: over 100 improvements to our major roads. Hundreds of extra lane miles on our motorways and trunk roads. The green light given to major projects that have been stalled for years. Action to improve some of the most important arteries in our country – like the A303 and the A1 – which for too long have held parts of our country back. And all underpinned by over £15bn worth of investment.”

In his Guardian interview, Rob Wainwright mounted a strong defence of the government’s decision to maintain UK membership of Europol. He said that 2,000 cases a year flow through Europol to support British cross border operations. They cover some of the biggest threats including people going to Syria or Iraq to join extremist groups, cybercrime, drugs and human trafficking.

Wainwright, himself British, said many of them lead to the arrest of criminals in the UK, as seen by the arrest of 6 people as part of last week’s Europol operation against the part of the dark web known as the “Silk Road 2.0”.

Wainwright said: “This successful international operation is one of dozens currently running at Europol with strong UK participation. All of them are targeting major security threats including cybercrime, child sexual exploitation and foreign fighters travelling to and from Syria.

“If the UK opts out of Europol and other JHA [justice and home affairs] measures the benefits of such co-operation cannot be guaranteed after 1 December this year, which has obvious implications in terms of public safety and national security.”

Wainwright added: “If the UK does not rejoin Europol then you put at risk the benefits the UK enjoys.”

Membership of Europol allows British law enforcement officers to share intelligence and design operations with European police forces to tackle serious organised crime groups plaguing the UK and to boost counter-terrorism investigations and the countering of extremism.

Europol membership costs the Uk £10.5m with 1,300 messages exchanged monthly between UK law enforcement and Europol.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Nicholas Watt and Vikram Dodd, for The Guardian on Monday 10th November 2014 00.02 Europe/London

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