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David Miliband hints at political return and condemns idea of EU exit as 'stupid'

Published:Wednesday | December 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

By Kiran Stacey - Political Correspondent, Source: Newspaper

David Miliband has hinted at a return to British politics, saying he does not intend to remain in New York forever and has not ruled out playing a role in any referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.

In one of his most open and wide-ranging interviews since leaving British politics last year, the former Labour foreign secretary told the Financial Times about his passion for keeping the UK at the heart of Europe.

He also suggested his current job heading the International Rescue Committee - supported by this year's Financial Times' seasonal appeal - could prove useful experience for any future political career. Asked about a possible return to British politics, Mr Miliband said that two years ago he would not have predicted his move to take over the charity in New York.

He added: "Tony Blair and John Major have said that they wish they'd done their post-premiership jobs before they became prime minister." When asked if he saw his current role as a possible pre-premiership job, he joked: "That's not the way I conceived it."

While Mr Miliband's words were carefully chosen, he spoke expansively about his frustration at the debate over Britain's role in Europe. "Those on the pro-British - as I call it - pro-European side of the argument have got to make the case that we get far more from being at the table than shouting with a loud hailer outside the room," he said. "I have this residual faith in the common sense of the British people that generally they don't do stupid things. And it would be unbelievably stupid to walk out of the European Union." Pushed on whether he could play an active role in any referendum campaign - the Conservatives have promised one in 2017 if re-elected - he said: "I would vote."

Mr Miliband quit as an MP in 2013, three years after losing the fight to lead the Labour party to his brother. But as criticism over Ed's leadership has grown, some MPs have begun to wonder whether the party would be in the same position if David had won the leadership battle.

Mr Miliband insisted his brother would make a good prime minister, adding that his main qualities were "clarity, vision, determination". When asked whether he thought Labour would win in 2015, he replied: "I passionately want Labour to win - and Ed to win."

(c) 2014 The Financial Times Limited