Miliband presses EU credentials

By Alex Stevenson

David Miliband’s European credentials were up for scrutiny this morning, as he called for Britain to take a leading role on the continent.

The foreign secretary argued to be a “global player” Britain had to play a strong role in Europe, a day after he denied interest in a key foreign policy role which would be created by the Lisbon treaty.

The foreign secretary is being viewed as a potential candidate for the role of high representative, a ‘foreign minister’ post for the European Union if the Lisbon treaty comes into effect.

Yesterday he ruled himself out, saying he was committed to his present job. The denial failed to dampen speculation if the Lisbon treaty is ratified after the next general election he may yet be interested.

Any bid for the post would be unlikely to succeed if former prime minister Tony Blair manages to win the presidency of the European Commission.

In a speech to the International Institute of Strategic Studies on the EU’s role as a global actor and the benefits to the UK of a strong foreign policy, Mr Miliband avoided directly referring to Mr Blair but said the presidency offered an opportunity to provide “continuity and consistency” in EU policy.

He said Britain faced a “stark choice” between being inside and outside Europe.

“Either we are a major player in international affairs, an integral part of the global conversation on conflict, security, economics and the environmental future of our planet; or we are a simply a bureaucracy that talks to itself, impotent in the face of the challenges our new world will bring,” he argued.