UK Politics

Miliband seeks swifter G20 action over economy

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Media captionEd Miliband: "If you get countries just looking at their own issues... the whole world is going to suffer"

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called on world leaders to show more urgency over the risks facing the global economy.

He told the Financial Times that David Cameron should call on the G20 to bring forward its scheduled November summit to address Europe's debt crisis, weak global growth and bank fragility.

The three problems represented a "poisonous economic cocktail", he said.

Government sources said the most important thing was for countries to have a credible economic strategy.

The G20 group of leading world economies are due to meet in France in early November but Mr Miliband says it is clear the economic recovery has "stalled" and more prompt action is needed.

Writing in the FT, Mr Miliband said the prime minister should press French President Nicolas Sarkozy for an earlier meeting when they hold talks at a Anglo-Frech summit on Libya on Thursday.

'One voice'

As it currently holds the G20 presidency, France determines when meetings take place.

In recent weeks, there have been a succession of warnings from key figures that the world economy is fragile and much more co-ordinated action is required to prevent a repeat of the 2009 global slowdown triggered by the banking crisis.

But although IMF head Christine Lagarde said immediate action was required to boost economic growth, US central bank head Ben Bernanke signalled no immediate steps to stimulate demand.

"We cannot go on like this," Mr Miliband writes. "The international community needs to start speaking with one voice and fast.

"The current risks to market confidence and the diminishing prospects for global growth mean we cannot risk waiting until November's G20 meeting. It should be brought forward."

G20 leaders need to work together to stop debt contagion spreading further across Europe, he added, while demonstrating a "clear agenda for growth" and repudiating "collective austerity" as the only solution to the world's economic challenges.

'No safe haven'

While eurozone members must step up efforts to convince the markets they are on top of their deficits, he warned that the UK was not immune from economic turmoil and urged the government to develop a more broad-based approach to growth and to deliver on banking reform.

"Unfortunately, our prime minister and chancellor seem to prefer standing on the sidelines, complacently claiming that we are a "safe haven" even though the British economy has been flatlining since last autumn," he concludes.

Government sources confirmed Mr Cameron would discuss the economic situation with Mr Sarkozy on Thursday although they would not be drawn directly on the G20 request.

They said the state of the global economy would be discussed by European finance ministers and their G20 and G7 counterparts at separate meeting in the coming weeks.

The government and Labour remain at odds over the scale and pace of spending cuts needed to reduce the UK's large deficit.

The coalition says financial markets and international bodies such as the IMF continue to support its deficit reduction plan and although the recovery remains choppy, it is putting the long-term building blocks in place for a more balanced economy.

The G20 has said it will take "all necessary" action to ensure stability and liquidity in financial markets and to support balanced economic growth.

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