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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Miliband's 'Bruges' Speech: Rebutted

Sequels are never as good

Robert Oulds

For Immediate Release
David Miliband fails to set out a realistic vision


On Thursday, 15th November, the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband MP, made a speech on the European Union. This was made in the College of Europe, Bruges – where Margaret Thatcher delivered her famous Bruges Speech, from which the Bruges Group derived its name.

Referring directly to Margaret Thatcher’s original Bruges Speech the Foreign Secretary set out his vision for the EU in 2030.

In short, David Miliband’s attempt to set out his vision for Europe is in reality just a weak attempt to sidestep the debate about the government’s failure to keep their promise on a referendum and divert attention away from the facts of EU membership. In this he will surely fail.


Reform of the EU and the social-model
The Foreign Secretary calls for the EU to Reform and for it to up-date its social-model economic policies. But if the revived and renamed EU Constitution is ratified, not only will the chances of the EU reforming itself become zero it will also be too late to end the EU’s damaging social-model policies because these will be written into the EU’s rule book.

Miliband calls for an EU army
Some parts of the speech are, however, very revealing. In calling for the EU to intervene around the globe he calls for the deployment of EU ‘hard power’. This will lead to an EU army, as well as a common EU defence and foreign policy.

This is more evidence that the Brown Government wishes to further distance itself from the Trans-Atlantic alliance and from NATO, which will inevitably be undermined by the EU’s separate foreign policy ambitions.

David Milinand reflects the calls of the European Commission to be open to even more immigration.

He calls for an open regulatory environment. This is fanciful because EU regulations are strangling enterprise across Europe, and still the Commission ignores calls for this to end.

David Miliband admitted in his speech that the EU is undemocratic, but instead of calling for this to change he sought to make a virtue of it.

The EU Constitution
Tellingly he referred to the current debate as the ‘constitutional debate’ this is a tacit admission that the so-called Reform Treaty is in fact the EU Constitution.

Lack of understanding
Unfortunately for a Foreign Secretary he shows a lack of understanding about the powers which the European Union already holds. At one point in the speech he talks about the EU running environmental policy, not realising that it already has this power.


As always, it is not only what he said, but what he did not say. The Foreign Secretary did not refer to:

Earlier in the same week that David Miliband made his speech, the Court of Auditors refused to sign-off the EU’s accounts for the 13th year running.

Although David Miliband talked about the EU budget he failed to call for the siphoning-off of taxpayers’ money to stop. It is astounding that this does not even concern him enough for it to warrant a mention. How can he not call for the EU to end its corruption?

There was no mention of why his government does not want to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution. In a cowardly fashion he just ducked the issue.


David Miliband is trying to do that vision thing, but he fails to say anything different to what the EU is itself saying and just repeats the same old tired mantras without offering an alternative to ever-closer Union.

The Foreign Secretary’s speech in some parts tries to justify calls for more power to the EU by using the fear of threats that we may or may not face in the future. Margaret Thatcher’s speech, however, is one that positively talked about the opportunities that Britain and other continental nations could enjoy and benefit from if the path towards ever-closer Union is rejected.

That is the biggest and most important difference.

EU expert Dr Lee Rotherham says,
“"Imitation is the highest form of flattery. It is just a shame that the only link with the original great Bruges Speech is the place in which it was delivered.

"The boy Miliband disappoints once again."

Robert Oulds, Director of the Bruges Group, says,
“It is usually the case that sequels are never as good as the original and in the case of Miliband’s Bruges speech the rule still stands.

“David Miliband’s speech is just spin and his vision for the EU in 2030 is just a rehash of existing EU propaganda.

“It is more likely that by 2030 the eurozone will have fallen apart and that Britain would have already left the failing European Union.”

Click here to read the full speech by David Miliband

For further information contact:

Robert Oulds
The Bruges Group
227 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent Street, London W1B 5TB

Tel: +44(0) 20 7287 4414
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