Did Clegg and the Queen have a huge bust-up over the EU?

If you read tomorrow’s Sun, you might think they did:

The account of the bombshell lunch during the last government – which a handful of other government ministers also attended – has been relayed to The Sun by a highly reliable source.

The senior source said: “People who heard their conversation were left in no doubt at all about the Queen’s views on European integration.

“It was really something, and it went on for quite a while.

“The EU is clearly something Her Majesty feels passionately about.”

The monarch is also said to have revealed her Eurosceptic feelings during a separate conversation with MPs at a Buckingham Palace reception.

Nick is quoted as saying:

Former Lib Dem boss Mr Clegg told The Sun: “I have absolutely no recollection of it.

“I don’t have a photographic memory. But I think I would have remembered something as stark or significant as you have made it out to be.

“No doubt you’ll speak to someone else and they’ll say, ‘I was there I heard it’. Fine.

“But I really can’t remember it at all.

“Anyway, without sounding pompous, I find it rather distasteful to reveal conversations with the Queen.”

He backed that up on Twitter:

The Sun’s headline, “Queen backs Brexit…..” is highly misleading as nowhere in the story is it even reported third hand that she said she wanted to leave the EU.

The Tories showed around the time of the Scottish Referendum that they were prepared to claim the Queen as taking their side. Their tactics are quite distasteful. They are supposed to be the ones preserving traditions, yet they are prepared to throw them to the wind when it suits them.


* Newsmoggie – bringing you comment from a different perspective

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Eddie Sammon 8th Mar '16 - 11:36pm

    I find the whole thing quite amusing, but I still want us to stay in. Europe provides us with great opportunities and so does the EU.

  • Yaaaaawn ………and so to bed.

  • Denis Loretto 9th Mar '16 - 12:16am

    How about this from the Daily Telegraph in June 2015? –

    The Queen said that division in Europe was “dangerous”, ahead of crucial negotiations in Brussels that could shape the future of the EU.
    In a speech at a state banquet in Berlin, attended by David Cameron and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Her Majesty emphasised Britain’s “key part” in the shaping of the Continent.
    She also lauded Britain’s “irreversible” friendship with Germany since the Second World War.
    Her comments are likely to be interpreted as a plea for Britain to remain a member of the European Union, with a referendum due on the issue before the end of 2017.

  • Geoffrey Payne 9th Mar '16 - 7:54am

    The “senior source”, whoever he is, did not quote the Queen as saying anything Eurosceptic and he himself only said that she spoke “passionately”, whatever that means.
    But that gets translated by the Sun as fitting their own bias on the matter.
    I imagine that Sun readers on the whole do care what the Queen thinks.
    So what to do? I believe in the free press, but unfortunately that often means freedom to lie and distort. The story is vague enough that I cannot see that the regulators can do anything about this.

  • Why cant he discuss a conversation with the Queen why is she so special. The establishment found a passionate player when Clegg became Deputy PM. Pompous is the accurate description.

  • Silvio – for the vast majority of people the Queen is very special, she’s a great lady doing a great job for the country. A private conversation over lunch with the Queen is something that should remain private. On that – if nothing else – I agree with Nick Clegg.

  • nigel hunter 9th Mar '16 - 10:11am

    I notice this comes along after the Sal Brinton episode. Either he is a poor reporter or this may be Tory strategy of the Brexiters or Tory disruption of the May elections, getting their campaign of the ground without having to declare it. I equally notice that it involves the Lib Dems. again. Dirty dealings underfoot?

  • nigel hunter 9th Mar '16 - 10:28am

    How about Lib Dems taking a cassette recorder to all meetings to record the conversations for the truth to be told, any ‘inaccurate’ details can be handled by the press office. Remember our Spring Conference is coming up, Are these ‘confused reports ‘ going to appear? Remember, we are now in election period for Council seats Any inaccuracies by the opposition in your ward must be stamped on immediately.

  • I wish the old gal well and hope she lives a very long time – basically because I don’t think I could cope with all the tabloid guff and saccharin of a state funeral and subsequent Coronation.

    John Marriott, yet again, is quite right – though I can’t say Franz Joseph was much cop (very sniffy about commoners and sleep walked into WW1) – George V’s cousin the Kaiser also had horrendous views on anti-semitism much in line with what came later.

    As to the reliability and veracity of the Murdoch press ????????????? I notice Cleggy’s best chum Peter Bone was chipping in this morning – and to think the party was so gullible as to go into coalition with that lot of slippery chancers.

  • On reflection, when George VI died, it was an all woman short list.

  • It wouldn’t surprise me if it is true. The Queen isn’t politically neutral really and it’s one of the reasons I am a republican.

  • Bill le Breton 9th Mar '16 - 11:42am

    It is worth reading the article and then Nick Clegg’s original comment. A senior journalist would have rung him and told him the basis of the story and what they would be saying about it and his role in it. That is how it is done.

    From Clegg’s considered reply, it seems clear that the discussion took place. In the comment Clegg is being careful not to deny that a discussion took place, suggesting that there could be different interpretations of the event.

    Later comments (and tweets) would have followed some heavy leanings from the Palace and from Downing Street. Clegg obliged. But we shouldn’t be influenced by those later comments.

    But what is the Queen actually quoted as saying? ‘The 89-year-old monarch firmly told passionate pro-European Mr Clegg that she believed the EU was heading in the wrong direction.’

    Perhaps the Queen had noted that Clegg in 2014 did not want the EU to be very much different in 10 years time from what it was then.

    We are again getting into the position of defending the EU absolutely, but surely our position is to advocate considerable reform of the EU. Do we think that Cameron’s deal is substantial? No. Do we think it answers our concerns with the EU? No.

    Would we therefore not agree with the Queen that the EU is heading in the wrong direction?

    As in the Scottish referendum we are getting into the position of being a defender of the indefensible.

    It is a difficult position that we find ourselves in. We don’t want to give succour to the Farage types but really we must not reinforce the already extensive interests of the Establishment and the Corporates in the EU as presently conceived and managed. This is of course the result of extensive lobbying by the Corporates.

  • Bill leBreton: agree entirely. Our uncritical approach to the EU is mystifying. It is a thoroughly illiberal organisation.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Mar '16 - 1:52pm

    Bill, David,malc
    Yes I agree,the queen is terrific, far more Liberal and liberal than the Eu, the monarchy costs a tiny fraction of the EU and far less than other heads of state ,and , unlike some , it is precisely the next generations liberal attitudes and efforts and humane good works that have turned me into a Liberal Constitutional Monarchist.

    Well done Nick , not pompous, well mannered , private conversations are precisely that , and there the queen should be entitled to her opinion !

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Mar '16 - 4:25pm

    Bill le Breton 9th Mar ’16 – 11:42am

    Thank you Bill. Sums up my interpretation of Clegg’s comments perfectly. Almost as many get-outs than a global Corporations tax affairs.

    Similarly spot on is: “We are again getting into the position of defending the EU absolutely, but surely our position is to advocate considerable reform of the EU. Do we think that Cameron’s deal is substantial? No. Do we think it answers our concerns with the EU? No.”

    We should be bold and open as to the European future Liberal Democrats favour – restating our commitment to ordinary citizens, the natural environment, democratic reform and to genuinely fair and free Liberal, rather than neo-liberal, trade.

    In fact that would serve us well at home as well.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Mar '16 - 5:52pm

    Obviously a leftover from a previous sentence structure … should read “Almost as many get-outs AS a global Corporation’s tax affairs.”

  • David Allen 9th Mar '16 - 6:10pm

    Yes – Spot on Bill le Breton. It’s spin, hype, distortion and spin. The counter examples provided by Denis Loretto above – which came from a real, public, verifiable speech! – give the lie to any suggestion that the Queen might want to bat for Brexit.

    What might – perhaps – be the tiny nugget of truth in the story could be, that the Queen is in fact having to work very hard to resist Cameron’s pressure to bat for Remain. Unlike either of her prospective successors, the Queen totally gets the overriding importance of political neutrality.

    On Scottish independence, the Queen asked voters to “think very carefully”. One can guess that this awkward compromise, which just about maintains royal neutrality, probably emerged after a prolonged and wearing tussle between an overbearing Tory Government determined to decide what Royalty will say, versus a Queen determined not to be controlled by politicians!

    It sounds like “Toe the line, Mrs Windsor, or we’ll hit you in the royal Pocket!” To which the answer sounds like “Don’t push me too far, Mr Upstart, or I could just turn on you!”

  • Alex Macfie 9th Mar '16 - 7:18pm

    “Our uncritical approach to the EU is mystifying.”

    Except that we aren’t uncritical. Our MEPs worked hard to amend EU law in a liberal direction, as you would expect liberal legislators to do in any legislative body. They were certainly not slavish supporters of whatever the Commission proposed: that would be as silly as being uncritical supporters of whatever Whitehall and the government of the day proposes. However, our Euro election campaigning failed to mention either the records of our MEPs or the Lib Dem and ALDE Euro-manifestos (about what we intend to do AS LIBERALS to shape EU law). This appears to have been a deliberate decision by our leadership and campaigns department. Supposedly this is because “no-one cares” about the different positions of parties on specific EU law, and therefore it is a waste of time to talk about what we would do as liberals. The consequence of this cowardly approach is that we give the impression of being uncritical supporters of the EU, as we just talked about how great the EU is without saying how we AS LIBERALS want it to look. Hence the car crash that was our 2014 Euro election campaign, in which Clegg agreed with Farage that MEPs don’t matter, and that the debate is a binary one between uncritical support and withdrawal.

    We need to challenge the media conspiracy of silence on the European Parliament, rather than go along with it as we did in 2014.

  • William Summers 9th Mar '16 - 10:20pm

    The bigger worry to me is not being allowed to know the real views of the head of state, despite the fact she has regular un-minuted private meetings with elected ministers.

  • Denis Loretto 10th Mar '16 - 11:39am

    The Sun is trying to brazen this out including a particularly sourpuss photo of Her Maj and dark imprecations about “other material”. This is a blogpost I have put on the Sun website this morning –

    “OK – let’s look more seriously at the allegations made. The key sentence in yesterday’s Sun story as I see it is – “Brexit-backing Tory MPs are already leaping on The Sun’s revelations as a strong sign the Queen is secretly on the side of Leave ahead of the landmark EU referendum on June 23”

    Here’s the scene – as a convinced supporter of the UK’s remaining in the EU I am hosting a lunch 5 years ago. Someone brings up the subject of the EU and I say “I am concerned about the eurozone. It looks like it will only survive if measures are taken to integrate its members even further, such as harmonising tax laws etc. I must say I would not want the UK to be drawn into that.” Someone else says “Fortunately we are not in the eurozone so we should be able to stand outside any such arrangement and still get the clear advantages of the single market.” I say “I hope you’re right but I would have concerns about it. Let”s go into lunch.”

    5 years later we face a referendum after the Prime Minister has clarified with the agreement of every one of our 27 EU partners that the UK is absolved from “ever closer union”, will never be forced into the eurozone and will not be discriminated against in any way by our maintaining our own currency (a crucial factor in retaining the City of London’s position as the financial hub of Europe). Without question I am going to vote “remain”.

    Two guests who attended the earlier lunch give “scoop” to national newspaper – “He was critical of the direction the EU was taking at a lunch 5 years ago!” Newspaper well known to be supporting the “leave” side in the referendum splashes on front page “Denis backs Brexit”

    In other words – leaving aside the impropriety towards the monarch – this story is absolute rubbish and shows increasing desperation on the “brexit” side. “

  • Absolutely right Denis Loretto. Read carefully, all the Sun actually claim to know as a fact was that five years ago, the Queen expressed disagreement with some unspecified aspect of what Europe was then doing, which might well just have been the muddle that generally surrounds the euro. We were hardly even contemplating a referendum back then.

    Then, the Sun quotes some Brexiters who would like to make two and two add up to seven, and hence to claim that the Queen is a Brexiter. Nearly home now! Since some joker has claimed on zero evidence that the Queen backs Brexit, this “justifies” a headline “QUEEN BACKS BREXIT!”

    The Murdoch Press are a disgrace.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • matt
    I am devastated to say the least by these new changes to visa rules. My life took a major turn of events last year and i separated from my Husband of 25 year...
  • Robin Stafford
    Christmas lunch today with 18-20 friends in a target seat. Mostly traditional Torys and they know my politics. Overall view? Who is Ed Davey and what do LibDems...
  • Nonconformistradical
    @Tom Harney How would you define ready? What are your smart objectives - you’ll need those to define ready?...
  • Tom Harney
    My opinion is that when talking about a General Election almost the only thing we can control is whether the party is ready for it....
  • Peter Hirst
    We are all mentally healthy at birth. What is needed is some basic knowledge about how our minds work and what can go wrong with them. It is even more important...