Ed Miliband: I didn't think of quitting over Labour's green U-turn

Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband has insisted he did not consider quitting over Labour's decision to junk its pledge to spend £28bn a year on green projects.

Labour's shadow net zero secretary, a key backer of the policy, said the party's plans still met his criteria of "moving the dial" on climate change.

He is said to have argued strongly for sticking with the figure as the leadership were considering a U-turn.

The Conservatives had suggested he had gone into political hiding.

The party launched a "Where's Ed?" website with a ticker claiming Mr Miliband had not been seen since 21 September. This referred to his last broadcast media appearance, as he has since spoken in the Commons.

But the shadow energy security and net zero secretary has now publicly rowed in behind Sir Keir Starmer after the Labour leader confirmed the £28bn figure was being abandoned.

Asked whether he thought about resigning, Mr Miliband told Channel 4 News: "Absolutely not. Because the test I apply is, are we going to go into the next election, if we're the next government, am I going to be able to be the energy secretary who can genuinely say Britain is leading the world?

"Britain is going to move the dial on climate and that is the test. That's why I'm in frontline politics, because I care so much about this cause and my test of what we've come up with is: does it meet the criteria I have? And absolutely it does."

He argued Labour still had a "massive agenda to invest in the future of the country" and that he had a "responsibility" to "make a difference" if he became energy secretary.

"The only thing I can do, the only right thing to do, is to fight for the maximum possible ambition. And to make sure that in government we can make a difference. I'm confident we can."

Labour announced on Thursday that its green plan would now invest £23.7bn over five years - a drastic scaling back compared to the commitment to spend £28bn each year when it was first announced in 2021.

Sir Keir blamed the Conservatives' stewardship of the economy and higher interest rates for the reversal.

He also insisted the ambitions behind Labour's flagship green prosperity plan remain the same, and has said he remains committed to his mission for the UK to achieve net zero electricity by 2030.

But the party's plan to insulate homes is set to be one casualty of the climbdown, with five million now slated to undergo upgrades in the first five years, rather than the 19 million over a decade.

Mr Miliband conceded: "It will take us longer to achieve what we wanted to achieve," but added the public cared about the "good jobs" that green investment offered.

"We're going to invest in the green economy, and we're going to do so in a way that is fiscally responsible," he added.