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Miliband warns of EU stance dangers

European leaders are "bemused" by the stance towards the EU being taken by the British Government under David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband has said.

Speaking after talks with French president Francois Hollande in Paris, Mr Miliband said that Mr Cameron was allowing "dangerous mixed signals" to be sent out by Conservatives over whether Britain should stay in the EU.

The Prime Minister was becoming "incredibly weak" and "isolated" in Europe as it became clear that the "Camerkozy economics" of austerity which he has promoted along with German chancellor Angela Merkel and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy are not delivering growth, said the Labour leader.

Mr Miliband was given a warm welcome in Paris by the president, who broke with protocol by coming out on to the steps of the Elysee Palace to greet him with a handshake.

The Labour leader said Mr Hollande had made clear he "appreciated" the discussions they had in London during a campaign visit in February, when Mr Cameron declined to meet the then Socialist candidate, in what was widely regarded as a snub.

They agreed to press ahead with plans for a conference of leaders of European centre-left governments and oppositions, to be hosted by Mr Hollande in Paris in the autumn, to discuss measures to restore jobs and growth.

Mr Miliband told French Socialist MPs during his visit that, while Labour advocated EU withdrawal in the 1980s, it now believes that Britain's place is "in Europe and firmly in Europe".

Speaking to reporters later, he brushed aside suggestions of an in/out referendum on EU membership, insisting that the key priorities in Europe now must be growth and jobs.

And he said EU leaders did not understand what Mr Cameron was doing by suggesting that he might hold a public vote in a few years, following a renegotiation of the terms of UK membership, but would not campaign for withdrawal.

He declined to discuss what Mr Hollande had said to him about Mr Cameron's stance, but added: "I think people are more interested in trying to understand Britain's position, because they find it quite difficult to understand. People are quite bemused by Britain's position. They don't really understand what Britain is arguing for. The worrying signal that might be sent is the idea that we really do want to exit the EU now and that is somehow our priority. I think we don't want to send that signal."

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