Brown backs Miliband for EU role to clear way for his protigi as party leader

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London, Nov 1 (ANI): British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in order to clear the way for one of his supporters to be Labour Party's next leader, is secretly backing Foreign Secretary David Miliband to become the new European Union's foreign affairs chief.

Miliband is expected to run for the Labour leadership next year in the event of the party losing power after the general election, securing widespread support from the Blairite right of the party.

Miliband's departure for Europe would increase the chances of one of the Prime Minister's chosen candidates, Ed Balls or Ed Miliband, the Foreign Secretary's brother, winning a leadership contest if Labour is defeated at the general election, The Times reports.

Downing Street is supporting the Foreign Secretary as a candidate for EU high representative for foreign affairs, as former premier Tony Blair may not win the presidency.

Publicly, Miliband insists that he is "not available" for the post, the second most important role created by the Lisbon treaty, which is set to be ratified this month.

However, Brown believes Miliband is ideally qualified for the job and is actively supporting his candidacy behind the scenes, according to the sources close to the British Prime Minister, the paper reports.

"This is being taken very seriously. Diplomatic channels in the Foreign Office are working behind the scenes on David's behalf," a Downing Street staffer said.

It emerged last night that Miliband has held secret talks with senior politicians in Brussels about running for the job, The Times reports.

Martin Schulz, the German leader of the socialist bloc in the European parliament, which is campaigning for the Foreign Secretary to win the post, said: "I have had several very positive discussions regarding the matter with Miliband recently."

The Downing Street operation is being conducted discreetly to avoid embarrassing Blair, who remains the official preferred ritish candidate for a top Brussels job. (ANI)

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