David Miliband quits frontline politics

Older Miliband sibling returns to the backbenches

OUTSIDE his Primrose Hill home yesterday, David Miliband, who was beaten by his younger brother to the Labour party leadership, quit frontline politics.

The talented politician, who had for years been the favourite to succeed Gordon Brown, stepped out of the limelight to give his brother a “clean field” as he embarks on his leadership.

The former foreign secretary announced he needs to “recharge his batteries” away from the frontline but will continue on the backbenches as the MP for South Shields.

Ed Miliband said “his door was always open” should David want to return. He told reporters that it would have been “fantastic” if David had chosen to serve in the shadow cabinet. saying it would have made it a “stronger team” - but that he understood the reasons for his “thoughtful and gracious” decision.

Speculation over Mr D Miliband’s future had been mounting since he lost the leadership contest on Saturday and he had until 5pm yesterday to make his decision.

In an interview with the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson, he said he was “absolutely certain” that the decision not to stand was the correct one. He wants to spend more time with his family and think about his future direction.

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Mr Miliband said he wants his brother to have to freedom and space to drive the party forward without any distractions and said that the media coverage of his reaction to Ed’s conference speech, when he appeared to be angry with Harriet Harman clapping at Ed’s criticism of the Iraq war, shows the intense level of scrutiny he would be under if he stayed in Labour’s top team.