Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Sunday, 1 November 2009

We can't spare Miliband - Harman

Cabinet 'cannot spare Miliband'

Labour cannot "spare" David Miliband to take up a role as Europe's first 'foreign secretary', deputy leader Harriet Harman has told the BBC.

Ms Harman said she could understand how the rumour had come about because the UK's foreign secretary was a politician of "international standing".

But, she said: "I don't think he wants to go - and we'll be keeping him."

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs role is set to be created when the EU's Lisbon treaty is ratified.

There have been suggestions that Mr Miliband may be in the running for the role if ex-prime minister Tony Blair fails to be selected for the new role of President of the European Council.

Mr Miliband, who is visiting Moscow on Sunday, has been the staunchest backer of Mr Blair for the role of president and said last week he was "not a candidate, not available" for the foreign affairs job.

The president role is due to be created if and when the Lisbon Treaty comes into force after the Czechs ratify it - with the leaders of the member countries deciding on who gets the role.

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