Audio: ‘I’m four-square behind Ed’ says shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna declared himself 'four-square' behind Labour leader Ed Miliband during a trip to Norwich today.
Mr Miliband has been left reeling amid claims that Labour was losing touch with ordinary people in the wake of last week's by-election victory by UKIP in Rochester and Strood and the sacking of shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry following her tweets of a house displaying the flag of St George. Mr Umunna has been widely tipped as a future Labour leader, but during a visit to the Forum to support this year's Small Business Saturday on December 6, he stressed that he was backing his under-fire leader. 'I'm absolutely four square behind him,' he said. 'I backed his leadership when he stood to become leader in 2010. Ed is an honest, decent, sincere trustworthy guy who has deep beliefs. 'Whatever people say about him, that's one thing people commonly acknowledge are characteristics he possesses.' And despite the continued rise of UKIP as a political force, he also insisted the party could still win the argument on issues such as immigration and EU membership. 'I think the important thing is that we win the argument,' he said. 'UKIP campaigned mainly on immigration. I think it's a massive con to argue that all the problems we have got in our country are down to eastern european immigrants. I think that's a lie, that's letting politicians in our country off the hook, who've made mistakes over three or four decades and lumping the blame with someone else, whereas actually we can't blame a small group of people in our country for all our problems. We've got to deal with them, and we've got to face up to where we've gone wrong and how we put it right. 'The easiest thing for me to do is to go 'I agree with Nigel' but I wouldn't be being honest. I think that's a con. 'The big issue for some of or larger businesses that trade globally, the big issue is our membership of the European union. They are desperate for us to remain members of the European Union, not only because it enables us to shape rules and regulations coming out of the EU, which is our biggest market, but also becaus it is the key that unlocks the door to emerging market economies through the trade agreements we benefit from. 'The European Union isn't perfect by any means and it absolutely does need reform but I think the best way we can exercise power economically and politically...to deliver better jobs and a better life for our people at home is working with other countries who are similar in their values and their mindset as us. 'That is what our partners in the European Union are.'