I’m grateful to PoliticsHome’s Paul Waugh for reporting Vince Cable’s words stressing the importance of the EU’s single market at a time of deep austerity in the western world:
“State aide cuts to the heart of the big debate which is rippling though our country at the moment which is about our future within the European Union. I have to say that this whole issue of raising again in a fundamental way British membership and the terms of membership is a massive disruption and deeply unhelpful in my job. I have to spend my time talking to business people, British and international, trying to have the confidence to invest here and create employment and the recent uncertainly is just deeply uncomfortable for the country. I think the warning shot across the bows yesterday from the United States was actually quite helpful as well as very timely.
“The core of the debate, at least on the economics side about the British membership, is the role of the single market and it’s worth remembering why that’s important here to the UK. First of all it is the part of the European project that the British, more than anybody else, helped to create and shape. It is extraordinarily historically important because if we look back at the history books and the interwar period, whenever there has been a financial crisis there have been 3 phases: the collapse of the banks, the financial runs of the kind we had in 1989, all was followed by a deep recession all was followed by nationalism and protectionism, and it’s the single market rules that prevent that historical precedent from being repeated again…”
It’s a powerful argument — the more so as Vince is, within Lib Dem ranks at any rate, one of the more Eurosceptic politicians.
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.