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Allies and detractors said they thought his decision to relocate to the United States was a sign he believed his brother would not win the next election and therefore be able to give him a high-profile job in any new government.
“It does show a lack of confidence about Labour winning the next election,” Peter Bone, an MP in the ruling Conservative party, told Reuters. “If he thought Labour had a good chance of winning he would have stayed. He clearly has doubts whether Ed Miliband can win.”
An online poll in the left-leaning Guardian newspaper showed most readers thought his move was a bad thing for Labour but a good thing for his brother as it removed a possible threat to his leadership.
Miliband himself was downbeat on his party’s prospects.
“I think the party’s doing well under Ed’s leadership but he’s the first to say it’s a long climb and we never underestimate that,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, to whom Miliband was close, said he was young enough to re-enter British politics.
“I hope and believe this is time out not time over,” Blair said in a statement.