Ed Miliband. Photo: Getty
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Ed Miliband says the PM “owes the country an explanation” after Andy Coulson guilty verdict

The Labour leader says the PM’s decision to employ the former News of the World editor “taints David Cameron’s government”.

Ed Miliband has released the following statement in response to the news that former No 10 communications director Andy Coulson has been found guilty of phone hacking:

I think David Cameron has very very serious questions to answer because we now know that he brought a criminal into the heart of Downing Street. David Cameron was warning about Andy Coulson. The evidence mounted up against Andy Coulson. David Cameron must have had his suspicions about Andy Coulson and yet he refused to act.

I believe this isn’t just a serious error of judgment. This taints David Cameron’s government because we now know that he put his relationship with Rupert Murdoch ahead of doing the right thing when it came to Andy Coulson.

I think David Cameron must do much more than an apology – he owes the country an explanation for why he did not act, why he did not act on these allegations against Andy Coulson, why as the evidence piled up he didn’t do anything about it and he’s got to explain.

David Cameron  has already issued a “full and frank apology” for keeping Coulson in No 10 as long as he did. He said: “It was the wrong decision and I’m very clear about that.”

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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.