27 Mar 2013

David Miliband: decision right for me and party

David Miliband tells Channel 4 News his decision to step down as an MP to take up an international charity role based in New York is the right decision for him and the Labour party.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the extended interview.

The South Shields MP has confirmed that he will step down as an MP to become the president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee in New York.

Speaking to Krishnan Guru-Murthy, David Miliband said that every time he tried to address the “bigger picture” the substance of his words were “lost in the soap opera of the two brothers.”

He added: “I’ve had to be honest with myself and honest with the Labour party and hard as it is to say this, this isn’t just right for me, it’s right for the Labour party.”

A ‘dream job’

David Miliband was beaten by his brother Ed Miliband to the Labour leadership in 2010, and has since steered clear of frontline politics.

His departure will shock those who thought he was aiming for a political comeback. As recently as January, Ed Miliband insisted “the door is open” for his brother to return to the opposition front bench.

However, the former Labour foreign secretary has taken a different road – taking what has been described as a “dream job” in New York. His resignation will spark a by-election in his north east constituency.

I am very pleased and proud that our shared goal of making this a one-term government is achievable - David Miliband

In a letter to his constituency party chairman, David Miliband said: “After the leadership election, I felt I could be most helpful to the party on the front line, in South Shields and around the country, rather than on the front bench in Parliament.

“I felt this gave Ed the space and at the same time the support he needed to lead the party without distraction. He has done so with real success, leading a united team that has taken the fight to the Tories.

“I am very pleased and proud that our shared goal of making this a one-term government is achievable.”

Poorer place

On Wednesday, Ed Miliband paid tribute to the “huge contribution” his brother had made to the party and to the country and said British politics would be a poorer place without him.

“Having spoken to him a lot over the past few months, I know how long and hard he thought about this before deciding to take up the offer. I also know how enthusiastic he is about the potential this job provides,” he said.

“As for us, we went through a difficult leadership contest but time has helped to heal that. I will miss him. But although he is moving to America, I know he will always be there to offer support and advice when I need it.

“British politics will be a poorer place without David. But his huge talents will be serving people around the world. I hope and believe that at some point in the future he can once again make a contribution to British public life.”

Cross-party praise

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron said: “It’s a big loss for parliament. David was a big thinker, great politician and a lovely man.”

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said: “This is a surprising decision from David Miliband. He has contributed a great deal to British politics and we wish him well.”

His decision to leave will prompt a by-election in the safe Labour seat of South Shields, which Mr Miliband held witj a majority of 11,109. It is likely the by-election will take place in May.