08/01/2015 21:36 GMT | Updated 08/01/2015 22:59 GMT

Chuka Umunna Warns Ukip's EU Stance Is A 'Road To Decline'

Dan Kitwood via Getty Images
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Chuka Umunna MP speaks to delegates during the Labour Party Conference at Manchester Central on October 1, 2012 in Manchester, England. The shadow chancellor Ed Balls, is expected to unveil plans today to stimulate the economy using a GBP 3bn windfall from the sale of 4G mobile phone frequencies to build 100,000 affordable homes and give stamp duty breaks to first time buyers. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Chuka Umunna has accused Ukip of offering a "road to decline" and ultimately a "dead-end" in its stance towards the European Union.

The shadow business secretary, who has been one of the Labour frontbench's most outspoken critics of the eurosceptic party, made his latest attack in a speech to the Japanese Chambers of Commerce in London on Thursday night.

Umunna told the assembled businesspeople that Labour would offer an "open, outward looking approach to the world," restating his party's commitment to the European Union as he said: "Britain’s interests remain within the EU."

“We can see all around us how rapidly the world is changing – driven by rising international competition from emerging economies and technological developments transforming the way we live and learn," he said.

"Some have responded to these changes by looking backwards. They argue life was better in times past when Britain still had an Empire. They want to press the pause button on change, pull up the drawbridge to new ideas and people from abroad, and leave the international market place. But this is the road to decline. It is a dead-end. We cannot stop competition or technological advance."

Umunna has previously clashed with Ukip, after last May accusing them of "maliciously" distorting the immigration debate. The Labour frontbencher has spoken of being subject to "racist and vociferous" abuse from Ukip supporters, accusing the party of stoking up "fear, division and loathing in our community".

This comes as senior politicians accused Ukip leader Nigel Farage of exploiting Wednesday's terrorist attack in Paris for his own political gain, after he suggested multiculturalism was to blame.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told LBC radio this morning he was "dismayed" at the Ukip leader's response to the "horrific, cold hearted, cowardly attack" on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people were killed.

Umunna also lambasted Prime Minister David Cameron for his "hostile approach" to Britain's European partners, warning: "It has already compromised our influence abroad."

He added: “Instead of the positive political leadership that is needed to reform and modernise the EU our influence is declining. Labour will reverse this and put the UK back in the driving seat.”

Urging businesses to make their voices heard in the debate on Britain's membership of the European Union, he went on: "When Nissan spoke out about the implications for their business if Britain left the EU, they were right to do so. Quite obviously, whether we are in or out of Europe we want firms like Nissan to stay in Britain. I believe your success here shows there are many good reasons why you should do so."

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