- Tories accuse Ed Miliband of stooping to a 'shameful' new low in campaign
- Labour leader will today attack the Prime Minister's intervention in Libya
- He will argue the refugee deaths are 'a direct result' of Cameron's failure
- Comes after EU leaders agreed package of measures to tackle the crisis
- Mr Cameron agreed to send a Royal Navy warship to the region within days
Ed Miliband has been accused of stooping to a 'shameful' new low by blaming David Cameron for the Mediterranean refugee crisis.
The Labour leader is set to use a keynote campaign speech today to suggest the deaths of hundreds of refugees fleeing North Africa are 'in part a direct result' of the Prime Minister's intervention in Libya to remove its former dictator Colonel Gaddafi.
The provocative allegation has provoked a furious response from the Tories who this morning demanded that Mr Miliband apologise for the 'outrageous and disgraceful' remarks.
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Ed Miliband has sparked a furious political row after blaming the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean on David Cameron (pictured in Brussels attending a special summit called to tackle the growing number of migrants fleeing north Africa)
It comes after Mr Cameron held emergency talks with EU leaders in Brussels yesterday over how to tackle the growing humanitarian crisis.
The Prime Minister announced the deployment of one of Britain's biggest warships - HMS Bulwark - as part of beefed-up efforts to prevent more refugees packing onto tiny boats.
Up to 1,750 refugees have lost their lives trying to reach Europe this year - out of around 35,000 who have tried to make the crossing.
The vast majority of the migrant boats set off from the Libya, which has descended into chaos in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution which saw Colonel Gaddafi swept from power with the support of France and Britain.
However, Mr Miliband will today accused the Prime Minister of taking his eye off the ball by failing to secure a stable transfer of power in the wake of the uprising.
The Labour leader will claim this failure has 'directly' contributed to the crisis today.
The provocative suggestion sparked a furious political response today. Tory minister Liz Truss said: 'It is absolutely offensive that Ed Miliband should be suggesting that David Cameron is directly responsible for those deaths, which is what he appears to be suggesting in his speech.'
'Accusing the Prime Minister of causing those deaths – whether directly or indirectly – I think is wrong of Ed Miliband to bring that in. I absolutely think he should withdraw it.'
Over 200 illegal migrants were rescued by Italian Guardia di Finanza boat 'Denaro' in the Mediterranean Sea this week
The refugees will be shipped to the Italian mainland after being rescued by Italian coast guards
A senior Tory source added: 'This takes Labour's relentless negative campaigning to a new low.'
The source pointed out that Mr Miliband had supported the intervention in Libya which he now blamed for causing the crisis.
Nick Clegg said the Labour attack was a 'distasteful' attempt to make political capital from the Mediterranean refugee crisis.
Mr Clegg insisted that 'a considerable amount of thought went in by the international community' to the aftermath and 'a huge amount of help and assistance and money has gone into trying to do our bit from outside'.
He acknowledged that it was 'legitimate to say that things then spiral in directions that you can't fully predict'.
'All I would plead for is a little less finger-pointing wisdom from Ed Miliband - when he supported the intervention in the first place - and a little bit more adherence to facts about exactly who is ending up on these boats, why they are and what we can now do about it to stop this terrible tragedy,' he said.
Seek and destroy: Britain will send one of its biggest warships, HMS Bulwark (above), to the Mediterranean within days as part of plans to targets boats used by human traffickers
David Cameron held high-level talks with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (left), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (top left) and French President Francois Hollande (top right) at a European Union summit yesterday
The Prime Minister offered one of Britain's biggest warships as part of beefed-up efforts to prevent more refugees packing onto tiny boats
But the shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander defended Mr Miliband's attack – and insisted the Prime Minister had failed to plan for the aftermath of Colonel Gaddafi's downfall.
He said: 'It is a failure of post-conflict planning for which the international community bears responsibility. That's not a matter of dispute, it's a matter of fact.'
In his speech to the Chatham House think tank today, Mr Miliband is expected to say: 'The tragedy is that this could have been anticipated.
'Since the action, the failure of post-conflict planning has become obvious. David Cameron was wrong to assume that Libya's political culture and institutions could be left to evolve and transform on their own.
'It should have been avoided. 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.'