Clegg and Cable criticise Tory EU machinations

First up, the Independent’s Andrew Grice reports Nick Clegg’s comments from yesterday’s Today Programme:

The battle lines over which powers should be returned from Brussels to Britain will be drawn today when Conservative Eurosceptics list their demands for the “new settlement” with the EU promised by David Cameron.

But Nick Clegg and a new all-party pro-European campaign, which includes Kenneth Clarke, poured cold water on the prospect of Britain winning a major repatriation of powers, accusing the Eurosceptics of making unrealistic demands.

Mr Cameron is expected to welcome the Fresh Start group’s “manifesto for change” ahead of his landmark speech on Europe on Friday, when he will offer a referendum after the 2015 general election on the deal he aims to win in negotiations on a new EU treaty.

The Prime Minister will brief Tory Cabinet members on his speech today. Some of them want to leave the EU – and are urging him to threaten to quit in order to put pressure on other member states to offer concessions.

But Mr Cameron’s differences with his Liberal Democrat deputy were laid bare when Mr Clegg warned that speculation about a referendum  could have a “chilling effect” on jobs and foreign investment in Britain. “Uncertainty is the enemy of growth and jobs,” he told BBC Radio 4. Investors could be frightened away by an “arcane debate that will go on for years and years and years”.

Mr Clegg added: “I don’t agree with the premise that we can unilaterally simply rewrite the terms of our membership of this European club, which is a club which is in need of reform. We don’t know yet how the rules are going to be rewritten within the eurozone, we don’t know when that would happen, in what way. And crucially, we don’t know what that will ask of the UK.”

And today’s FT reports business secretary Vince Cable’s remarks:

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary, plans to say in a speech on Thursday that it is “a terrible time to have the diversion and uncertainty which build-up to a referendum would entail”.

Mr Cable says the debate is creating uncertainty for inward investors, citing surveys showing that half see Britain’s unfettered access to the single market as a core reason for investing in the UK.

“Uncertainty is the enemy of investment,” he will say. “At a time of extreme fragility in business confidence, such uncertainty would add to the sense of un­resolved crisis and weaken Britain’s ability to deliver more reform inside the EU.”

* Nick Thornsby is Thursday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs here.

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7 Comments

  • Keith Browning 17th Jan '13 - 11:25am

    What club do you know where you can be a member under one set of rules and everyone else lives by another? Ridiculous..!

    As a UK citizen can I ‘cherry-pick’ which laws I like and which I dont – ‘I fancy driving on the right hand side of the road today’..!! Ridiculous.

    These people need putting firmly in their place – perhaps even exiled to their ‘gites’ or alpine chalets, the ones that most of them own – sur le Continent.

  • * ~ Cough ~ *
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/feb/25/eu.liberaldemocrats
    And the last paragraph of Nick Cleggs’ speech in 2008 ?
    “That’s why the Liberal Democrats are putting down amendments in the Commons this week to provide the real referendum on Europe that people have been denied for too long. A national debate would show that Britain is immeasurably better off in the EU. We want a referendum on Europe with substance. This generation deserves its chance to say where we stand on Europe – in or out.”
    Cleggs last sentence well worth repeating ~ “……This generation deserves its chance to say where we stand on Europe – IN or OUT…..!.”
    Is it really any wonder that the public have zero trust in what politicians say?

  • I listened to Milliband on this morning’s “Today” programme and to Cable on “The World at One”; they were both arguing on the same side but, and it’s a big but, Vince Cable sounded far,far more professional and articulate…

    Well done Vince…….

  • Jonathan Webber 18th Jan '13 - 9:26am

    It looks, for the first time in recent memory, that a Euro election is going to be fought on European issues. This time the real issue, primarily our economic place in a global context, is in a position to trump the usual and often bizarre rhetoric that drives the popular debate on Europe. Indeed, we are, I suspect, inexorably approaching a position where an in/out referendum increasingly will choose to keep us in.

    While it may not appear so from a UK perspective, Europe is essentially driven by regions and a highly focused local agenda. A very clear outcome from this is that European citizens outside the UK are very much more engaged with Europe, its local institutions and consequently very much more aware of the benefits and opportunities Europe affords them.

    Two thoughts then:

    Each region / DA should conduct a thorough mapping exercise of how Europe manifests itself where they are. What EU institutions are present, what programmes exist, who is taking advantage of them (and how) and, above all, a well-researched assessment on regional and local impact that withstands scrutiny. I run a number of European

    Turning up the volume and focus of our Euro messaging with an increased emphasis on the sub-codes around ‘economy’ in an unashamedly local context. Greater emphasis on jobs, skills, growth, investment, export, apprenticships – especially SMEs – juxtaposed against a cavalier Tory/UKIP position that seeks to beggar a nation.

    I declare my interests:

    Second on the West Midlands Euro list; Director of International Trade & Development, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce; Director, UK Trade & Investment Birmingham & Solihull. I am also Director of the Enterprise Europe Network West Midlands )the EU’s interface with regional business and of the recently established Birmingham EDIC (the EU’s interface with the citizen).

  • @Jonathan Webber
    Your overall analysis is not unreasonable, but I don’t think you have dug deep enough. You say :
    “A very clear outcome from this is that European citizens outside the UK are very much more engaged with Europe, its local institutions and consequently very much more aware of the benefits and opportunities Europe affords them.”
    It has often been said, that the Greeks, despite their serious economic problems, do not want to abandon the Euro currency. This is understandable. During the good times. when the economy was, (or appeared to be) sound, a symbiosis of North and South (EU) worked for all. The South had access to low,(no!), tax levels, a new Mercedes on the drive every three years, and early retirement in their early 50’s. The North enjoyed a market for their manufactured ‘stuff’, plus provision of loans to buy their ‘stuff’. It worked extremely well for everybody.
    When you dig deeper, what you discover is that a kind of ‘Cargo Cult’ mentality developed between North and South (Europe).
    Now that the economy is ‘troubled’, the European South are looking to the skies, still waiting and hoping, for the goodies to arrive from the North, (as they have for over a decade). And the North, are scratching their heads, and wondering how the hell, are our European cousins in the South are going to pay for the stuff, we’re sending them?
    Truth is, they can’t pay for the North European produced goodies, and in fact, WON’T EVER AGAIN, pay for the North European produced goodies and loans. Those debts will never be repaid.!!
    The Eurozone party is over. The EU punchbowl is empty, and this is why we in the UK, need to have a serious, and deep, re-think about the EU, and decide where ‘it’ is going, and whether we want to go with ‘it’ ?

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