Nick Clegg: Renegotiating EU membership is not in the national interest

The BBC reports Nick Clegg’s reaction to David Cameron’s speech on the EU. The Liberal Democrat leader made it clear that he thought it was not in the national interest to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership. He said that the biggest challenge facing Britain was a fragile economy and that the Liberal Democrat priority was to build a strong economy in fair society. Yes, that phrase again. Something tells me we’d better get used to hearing it.

He added that it was up to David Cameron what went in the Tory manifesto, but that his priorities were reforming the EU, supporting a referendum if there were a major change as outlined in legislation and prioritising  jobs and growth. He felt that years of uncertainty would damage our economic prospects.

He said:

My view is that years and years of uncertainty because of a protracted, ill-defined renegotiation of our place in Europe is not in the national interest because it hits growth and jobs.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Classic case of politician favours democracy when in opposition and then drops principles when in power.

  • A very odd comment from Thomas Long; I cannot work out if he refers to Cameron, Clegg, himself or another, unless he thinks the renegotiation might be about democratic systems. Supporting a referendum in the event of a treaty that significantly transfers powers out of Westminster was in the last manifesto.

    Personally I am queasy about referendums as they tend to be adjudged less on the question, but more on who is asking the question. If Cameron is putting the question in 2017 can he be sure that there will not be a lot of discontent towards him at this time?

  • I assume Nick will be backing Ed’s commitment not to hold a referendum then?

  • g – I imagine he will stick to the line about an In/Out referendum if there is a major treaty change.

  • Isn’t the real political issue at the next election going to be the issue of renegotiation, not the question of a referendum?

    On the face of it, this ought to be an opportunity for the Lib Dems to differentiate themselves from the Conservatives on an important issue. Given Cameron’s policy, a vote for the Conservatives in 2015 will amount to a vote for partial disengagement from the EU at best. There must be many pro-European Conservatives who will not be keen on that.

  • It it really democratic for Cameron to offer only some of the logical options? What about voters who , for example, who may want to keep the status quo, wishing neither to become semi-detached, nor leave the EU altogether?

  • Andrew Suffield 23rd Jan '13 - 8:21pm

    If not now* – when the eurozone is federalising in a way that will marginalise british interests if unreformed – then when?

    How about at a time when Labour won’t run to all the media to tell them that this referendum isn’t about Europe at all, it’s about spending cuts, and you need to vote against the government in order to tell them you don’t like spending cuts?

    We need a serious debate about the UK’s future in Europe. We cannot have it in this environment.

  • Paul McKeown 24th Jan '13 - 12:14am


    “Isn’t the real political issue at the next election going to be the issue of renegotiation”

    Nail. Hit. On. Head.

    Any referendum Cameron proposes to hold will offer two alternatives: the poisonous and the unpalatable.

  • The UK is in the top 4, of contributors to the EU, with a payment of about 13% of the EU budget. If 13% of your customers, suddenly queue outside the doors of your bank, with the clear intention of closing their accounts, then you may find that you do not have a viable bank anymore.
    Angela Merkel knows this. She will compromise, and will negotiate with Cameron, but not because she values the British political input to Europe. She knows that if the British cheques stop coming, then the German and French cheques will have to be increased, to head off Eurogeddon.
    Follow the money, not the hot air and political rhetoric.

  • Andrew Suffield 24th Jan '13 - 10:38pm

    Angela Merkel knows this. She will compromise, and will negotiate with Cameron, but not because she values the British political input to Europe. She knows that if the British cheques stop coming, then the German and French cheques will have to be increased, to head off Eurogeddon.

    Don’t be silly – the flow of UK money to Europe will not go down if we’re no longer part of the EU. It’ll probably go up, because we’ll still be buying their products, but the inevitable hefty tax that they’ll slap on us will both collect another large chunk of cash from that trade, and mean other people in Europe turn to the German markets to provide the things we currently do.

    Angela Merkel fantasises about such a future, where she can lead the new German Union to economic dominance.

    if you treat people like monkeys, don’t be surprised if they act like one

    If they’re acting like monkeys, don’t expect them to build bridges.

  • Richard Dean 25th Jan '13 - 9:02am

    Angela has used the UK’s isolationism to reinforce her position as Queen of Europe. Cameron and Osborne have managed to make sure that we must all go begging to her if we want anything at all.

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