The former Labour leader made an appearance at the Speakers Forum in the festival's Green Futures Field
Ed Miliband has given his opinion on Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and the chances of Labour winning the next election during a discussion panel at Glastonbury today (25 June).
The former leader of the Labour party – he resigned from his post after losing the 2015 General Election – visited the Somerset festival earlier this afternoon to appear at the Speakers Forum. The timing of the appearance gave Miliband a chance to talk about the seismic result of this week’s EU Referendum.
Asked about the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, Miliband said: “My starting point was I was firmly for remain, because all the problems we face in our world can only be tackled by cooperating with other countries. In terms of what has followed, I’ve gone through the emotions that lots of people have gone through. I was shocked at the result, because it wasn’t the one I’ve expected – I’ve gotten used to results I don’t expect in elections and referenda.
“Look, 17 million people voted for Brexit, and it’s incredibly important for progressives to accept the result and accept that the people have spoken,” he continued. “I personally wish this hadn’t happened, but the task of my politics is to say, now that it has happened, how do we shape this in a progressive way? How do we offer a progressive alternative to everyone who voted for Leave?”
The politician was also asked about his successor as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn was scheduled to appear at the festival tomorrow (26 June), but pulled out of his appearance yesterday due to his decision to “focus on the issues” thrown up by the EU referendum results.
When put it to him that the current Labour leader hadn’t done enough to support the Remain campaign, Miliband was reluctant to place blame on Corbyn. “I don’t agree. Having been the leader of the Labour party, I know what it’s like,” he said “It’s an incredibly hard job, and I made a decision when I stepped down that I’m not going to criticise whoever the next incumbent is. He made the case in his own way – he has scepticism about some parts of Europe, but supported Remain.”
On the topic of whether a snap election might be called once David Cameron resigns as Prime Minister – which is expected to have happened by October – Miliband was bullish when asked if Labour might be able to seize power from the Conservatives in such circumstances.
“It’s absolutely winnable. The Remain side shouldn’t think that people voted because they were happy with the way things were going under David Cameron – a lot of people voted Remain while holding their nose. There are lots of people who can be mobilised [in an election]. I got out of the prediction business in 2015, but I think it’s absolutely all to play for.”