LONDON (AP) — British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband on Friday accused Prime Minister David Cameron of weakening Britain on the world stage with an isolationist foreign policy and uncertainty about membership in the European Union.
In a speech that brought international affairs into Britain's election campaign, Miliband said Cameron's failure to plan for post-Gadhafi Libya had contributed to the North African country's descent into chaos.
"The tragedy is that this could have been anticipated. It should have been avoided," he said.
"And Britain could have played its part in ensuring the international community stood by the people of Libya in practice rather than standing behind the unfounded hopes of potential progress only in principle."
Conservatives accused Miliband of blaming Cameron for the deaths of migrants who have drowned while crossing the Mediterranean from Libya. Cameron called the Labour leader's remarks "ill-judged."
Contrasting Labour internationalism to what he called the "small-minded isolationism" of Cameron's Conservatives, Miliband said uncertainty about the U.K.'s future in the EU "poses a grave risk to Britain's position in the world."
Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on leaving the EU if he wins the May 7 election.
"Unless we are engaged and part of what is happening and a full and committed member of the EU, we are almost bound to be marginalized," Miliband told an audience at the Chatham House think tank.
"Our loss of influence in Europe leads to a further loss of influence in the world — from the United States to China."
This week Cameron broke off from campaigning to attend an EU summit in Brussels on the crisis that has seen thousands of Middle Eastern and African migrants make dangerous Mediterranean crossings to Europe.
But international issues have been largely absent from Britain's election campaign, although immigration ranks high among voters' concerns.
Both Cameron and Miliband hope to be prime minister after May's vote, which polls say is too close to call.