Nick Clegg wins out on EU referendum – but what will the party think?

EU Flag at the European Parliament at Strasbourg. Photo credit: Some rights reserved by European ParliamentToday’s Guardian reports that Nick Clegg has won the backing of MPs over whether to support a change in the party’s policy on an EU referendum:

The deputy prime minister, who has faced direct calls from ministers for a change of stance on the EU, won the agreement of the Lib Dem parliamentary party to stand by the current policy. This is to hold a referendum only if UK sovereignty is passed to the EU. The Tories would go further by guaranteeing an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2017 regardless of the result of negotiations on the future of the EU.

Clegg defeated an attempt by senior party figures to guarantee a referendum in the party’s general election manifesto. Tim Farron, the party president, and Simon Hughes, the former Lib Dem deputy leader and justice minister, have spoken in favour of a referendum. Calls for a referendum increased after the Lib Dems saw the party’s crop of elected MEPs crash from ten to one in last month’s European parliamentary elections.

The deputy prime minister won the party’s agreement to maintain the same position on the EU in the autumn when the Tories reintroduce a private member’s bill to guarantee an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership by the end of 2017.

You could probably argue that it was sensible not to enforce a top-down change in policy by getting MPs to vote against established party policy, especially on an issue where the will of the party is not clear. When we asked the question in a members’ poll last year, 58% of our members backed the current policy.

Our co-editors are split, too. Stephen Tall argued a couple of weeks ago that the practical realities of life required us to change tack while referendum-fatigued Caron Lindsay wasn’t so sure.

Of course, if the party is sufficiently exercised to want to debate the issue, any local party or 25 Conference representatives can submit a motion to Conference. The deadline for motions is 1pm on 16th July.

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  • Another pledge that is potentially unrealisable is the last thing the Party needs: not only would it be wrong, it would be a mistake.

  • Shaun Nichols 2nd Jul '14 - 4:10pm

    The political weather is changing. If Labour promise a referenda (UNITE are pushing them to do so), the Lib Dems will be left exposed/compromised.

  • @David Grace – The story is cleverly and mischievously worded. Tim’s view is here from 2011, when I saw him at a regional conference recently, he reiterrated this and mentioned this article for LDV:

  • Stephen Howse 2nd Jul '14 - 4:28pm

    “Why is the party so opposed to a referendum ?”

    It isn’t – our policy is the government’s policy, which is that there will be a referendum if and when there is a transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Jul '14 - 4:50pm

    I don’t agree with a referendum. In a representative democracy they are only really required for party management purposes. We just need to argue for reform, but show we mean it and will act if we don’t get it. And by reform, I don’t mean “right wing reform”.

  • matt (Bristol) 2nd Jul '14 - 4:51pm

    I think we have to recognise that we are not making the weather on this issue. We need to resist and argue against artificial timeline for an ‘in-out’ referendum (what if there is a meaningful treaty renegotiation going on in 2017 but there are no clear results to bring to the country before the proposed pre-agreed referendum date?) but we should not pretend we can do so indefinitely or that in any further possible coalition we could meaningfully prevent a referendum taking place at a time not of our choosing, or much worse, at a time not related to what the rest of the EU is doing.

    What is more important is that we get out of this black and white yes-or-no argument about whether a referendum is a good thing and get advocating hard for democratic reforms to the EU that are distinctive and liberal and internationalist.

    Right now, Cameron has captured the ‘reform and stay in’ argument on the right, the Greens have done the same thing on the left, and Farage has captured the ‘let the people decide’ argument. No one knows where Miliband stands, and people think we are the party of always agreeing to everything Brussels says.

    This horrible and false perception needs to be changed, but it will take really hard work and energy our leadership is putting into other areas.

    The liberal and democratic rhetoric has been captured by parties with illiberal (and in some cases undemocratic) tendencies, and our abillity to make a clear argument in the market place of ideas is being lost.

  • It sounds undemocratic to oppose a referendum, but I remember being horrified at the wild inaccuracy of things being said about the proposed EU constitution when a referendum over that was on the horizon. I fear that the level of public awareness over the EU is to low to allow a meaningful referendum.

    I remember the nonsense about being urged to “vote no to AV to give Clegg a kicking”: the EU is vastly more important than AV and it would be a catastrophe for Britain if we left the EU for similarly batty non-reasons.

  • It sounds undemocratic to oppose a referendum, but […] it would be a catastrophe for Britain if we left the EU for similarly batty non-reasons.

    Translation: ‘It sounds undemocratic to oppose a referendum, but democracy is only for when we can trust the hoi polloi to vote the right way. If there’s a chance they might vote the wrong way (where “wrong” means “not the way I would vote”) then they must at all costs not be allowed to vote at all.’

  • Could all be academic, no probably will be.

    Look at the very very recent polling released yesterday in Lib Dem some seats taken from Labour showing:-
    Bradford East Lib Dem 23% Labour 45%
    Brent Central ” ” 19% ” 54%
    Withington ” ” 22% ” 56%
    Norwich South ” ” 12% ” 33% nb Greens are second on 20%
    and as an extra
    Brighton Pavillion ” 33% Greens 32%
    These figures are after people in the seats are asked specifically how they would vote in these constituences

    Huge swings to Labour in the first 3 and of course near total collapse of our vote. What further messages need we receive. BUT of course there is no need to worry all be well etc etc etc!!!!! MORE EVIDENCE THAT WE NEED A CHANGE AT THE TOP WE ARE HEADING FOR COMPLETE DISASTER NEXT YEAR.
    More of the same whatever it is, including no change on the referedum aint going to get us anywhere. I am a Europhile but if we have a referendum then whatever the result it is decided for a generation. I am sure the final result would be to stay. The average UK person knows where their bread is buttered.

  • Dave Leicester 2nd Jul '14 - 6:15pm

    Whatever your views on whether we should be IN or OUT, I cannot see what is wrong with offering the electorate a referendum on something that is as wide spreading as our continued membership of the EU.

    I could go down the ‘We have never had a vote for it route’, or I could go for the ‘All our laws are being made in Brussels’ route but I won’t.

    Nobody can deny the growing calls from the public (you know, the people that should matter to any politician) and surely if we call ourselves a Democratic party, we should be offering this referendum to them.

    Why is it not being offered? Are the public not trusted to make the right decision or are we afraid they may vite for something that does not suit our leaderships ideals?

  • It would appear that actually the people pushing for a referendum were Nick’s minsters – according to The Times: ” Lib Dem ministers turned their fire on Mr Clegg.”

  • A referendum should be triggered by new treaties or substantive changes in existing ones, as our policy states. We also need a new treaty. The European Union cannot continue as it is, post-Lisbon the financial crash and its associated mess has highlighted areas that the Union needs to overhaul. And political sensitivities in fringe countries like England make it very important that questions around democratic accountability and the constitutional setup of the Union are answered.

    Once we’ve hammered out what the relationship between the Commission and Parliament, alongside the ECB and the other institutions of the Eurozone, is, and once we’ve settled how fringe members fit into that structure or if there should even be such a thing as a fringe member, then we should vote on it.

    But we must be aware that the vote will define the politics of Britain for decades to come. In will mean pooling sovereignty and accepting that the principle of subsidiarity will grant legislative primacy to institutions that aren’t Westminster, with obvious implications for our macroeconomic and foreign policy, and for the devolution argument within England.

    Out will mean accepting permanently lower standards for pay and conditions, as Britain adjusts to the new tariffs for trade with Europe and seeks to compete with non-EU countries for investment and labour costs. It will mean losing much of the influence we have on the world, as our voice will no longer affect the policy of Europe nor carry the weight it once did with America. And it will mean losing the United Kingdom, as there is almost no chance the Scots will simply accept being voted out of the EU by the English against the large majority of public opinion within Scotland – expect another referendum within the next two Scottish parliaments.

  • I see that some commenters seem to be against the electorate ever having its say on the EU. Perhaps the party should go back to being just plain Liberals.

    How does Mr Clegg define the handing over of sovereignty? Most of it has been handed over already, and much of what is left is eroded all the time by way of changes agreed under previous treaties and decisions made by majority voting.

    Perhaps he defines it as a treaty change, in the knowledge that the Commission now regards a treaty change as a democratic minefield to be avoided at all costs. The EU doesn’t want member States such as Ireland to have to consult their electorate as dictated by their constitution.

    Goodness! The whole point of having a Commission is that it by-passes tiresome elections and the elite can govern without any accountability whatsoever. They certainly don’t want the ignorant masses to have some mechanism by which they can question the Commission’s decisions. Whatever next?

    Well done, Mr Clegg. We, the ignorant masses, note your decision.

    By the way, will you still be able to get a job in the EU after we’ve left? Just wondering.

  • jedibeeftrix 2nd Jul '14 - 6:53pm

    @ T-J – “And it will mean losing the United Kingdom, as there is almost no chance the Scots will simply accept being voted out of the EU by the English against the large majority of public opinion within Scotland – expect another referendum within the next two Scottish parliaments.”

    Were that true then bon-voyage.
    I do not believe it to be true, however.

    The scots will have plenty of time to guage the mood of the wider UK on a number of positions before september, they can make their choice, and they will live with it.

  • Dave Leicester 2nd Jul '14 - 7:00pm

    Once upon a time I rather naively thought that meaningful reform of the EU was a possibility and remaining a member was in our best interests.

    It now looks like reform is out of the question as Merkel has said that Britain can take longer than other states to accomplish ever closer union. How charitable to give us a bit longer but it seems increasingly that to be a member of the club means only one thing – eventual assimilation into the EU superstate.

  • David Allen 2nd Jul '14 - 7:01pm

    The criterion for a referendum which we support, “only if UK sovereignty is passed to the EU”, is a bad mistake. It implies that the only thing which matters to us as Lib Dems is stopping those foreigners taking any more power out of British hands. That is to concede to our opponents’ xenophobic approach to life.

    Now I grant you that sovereignty transfer to the EU should be one thing that should trigger a referendum, but should it be the only thing? What if – just as an example – Europe agreed a new treaty between Eurozone members which (a) brought them much closer together in terms of unified fiscal and monetary policies, or (b) alternatively, dismantled the Euro. Shouldn’t major changes of such a nature also be taken as potentially good reasons for a referendum, even if British sovereignty did not alter?

    Then again, Cameron is arguing for (some sort of ill-defined) sovereignty transfer from the EU to the UK. He is rash to promise a referendum on those groungs, even rasher to commit to a date. But again, if in (say) 2019 the EU agreed to greater subsidiarity and a transfer of powers outward to the nations or regions, shouldn’t that too be considered a reasonable basis for a referendum?

    I don’t personally think we should promise, definitively, to hold a referendum. But the present policy, based only on the supposedly sacred need to preserve British national sovereignty, is a crazy stance for Lib Dems to adopt.

  • @Peter

    Come now, let’s try to keep this thread at least a bit sensible.

    The Commission is there because there are cases where the interests of the community of nations as a whole may sometimes run counter to those of the member states considered separately. Any community is always more than the sum of its parts.

    What do I mean? Well, one example, fisheries. Its in the interests of each member state to take more, to prevent the neighbours from doing likewise. But it is in the interests of the community as a whole to maintain high stocks. The Commission aims to balance out each individual’s interest against the common interest and come to a settlement that works for everyone and avoids the tragedy of the commons and the race to the bottom that we’ve seen all too often in Europe in the past.

    That’s what the Commission is for, nothing to do with sidestepping democracy. Indeed, the moves in Europe are towards holding the Commission accountable democratically, since it has accumulated the political role of a cabinet of sorts.

    And if you’re going to use the Ireland example again, let’s get the whole story. Ireland opposed the Lisbon Treaty because it was going to reduce the number of Commissioners to a maximum of two thirds the number of member states. Ireland feared that it would be one of the small countries nobody would bother appeasing with a Commission seat, so it opposed the change to preserve its influence.

    Now, last time I looked at the Commission, sure enough, there’s 28 seats, one each. The compromise with Ireland’s issue was that the member state that provides the Commission President and the High Representative don’t get a normal Commissioner, keeping the total below 30 for the sake of streamlining, but every country still has a guaranteed equal share of the institution.

    There’s a case of a change that was brought about to protect a member’s interests. You may notice that it didn’t involve the Irish Taoiseach stomping around Europe threatening to flounce off if he didn’t get his way.

  • @jedibeeftrix

    ‘The scots will have plenty of time to guage the mood of the wider UK on a number of positions before september, they can make their choice, and they will live with it.’

    Its precisely that attitude that has created the SNP and their separatist agenda in the first place.

    And I’m sure you’d be very much opposed to it if I were to turn that argument around on you and say that the English had plenty of time to guage the mood of the wider European community on a number of positions before 1974, they made their choice and they can live with it.

    Of course, sensible people realise that referendums don’t bind everyone forever and end all discussion on a subject. You’re allowed to want yet another referendum on Europe, and the Scots are entitled to hold another referendum on Britain, should they decide to do so. As in Quebec in the eighties, one vote will not settle the question in Scotland, but unlike Canada in the nineties, Britain’s direction of travel is… well, can Britain even be said to be moving at all?

    From where I’m standing its looking distinctly as if its pining for the fjords.

  • jedibeeftrix 2nd Jul '14 - 7:31pm
  • The UK’s position on Europe has not changed significantly since Churchill described it as “We are in Europe, but not of it. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed.”

    Every treaty change has been approached from this stance, as will be the next one. An in/out referendum is a Tory/UKIP obsession. Immigration is at the heart of Euroscepticism in the UK and the rise of UKIP. A credible and sensible program of reform that allows for constraining the free movement of Labour outside of the Shengen area can lance that boil and relegate EU matters to its former wonkish status.

  • jedibeeftrix 2nd Jul '14 - 7:38pm

    TJ – “And I’m sure you’d be very much opposed to it if I were to turn that argument around on you and say that the English had plenty of time to guage the mood of the wider European community on a number of positions before 1974,”

    You mistake me entirely. Should the scots vote to leave in Sept and get bored of the notion five years later I would be the first to welcome them back in. We are human, lapses of judgement are inevitable.

    “and they will live with it.” refers to having opportunity to gauge the mood of the country, including the likelyhood of us being forced to leave as non-euro members may cease to possess essential sovereignty in post crisis euro-pe.

    As to the attitude, they can take it or leave it. Britain remains an adversarial place populated by argumentative and downright frustratingly obstinate individuals, if they hark after some consensual paradise there is an option open waiting for them.

    I consider the scots my ‘family’, and I hope the sentiment is reciprocated.

  • jedibeeftrix 2nd Jul '14 - 7:41pm

    @ Joe – ” Immigration is at the heart of Euroscepticism in the UK and the rise of UKIP”

    That is only half the story, for tory skepticism seems of a quite different nature. Even in UKIP’s form, anti-immigration is a recent posture designed to hoover up the disaffected labour vote that might previously have eyed the BNP.

  • Martin Lowe 2nd Jul '14 - 9:35pm

    That Telegraph article is typical dishonest euro scaremongering nonsense. There is nothing in place that means the UK, Sweden and Denmark have to adopt the Euro after 2020 other than the present vague commitment to doing so at some point.

    Of course, the article eventually gets round to this close to the end but by that time it’s misled enough gullible people into thinking that Britain has a fixed deadline to change currencies.

  • jedibeeftrix 2nd Jul '14 - 9:57pm

    As Joe has himself acknowledged; the nature of the convergence of the eurozone to bring economic union and political union [may] well leave euro-outs in the position of being subject to legislation and regulation that we have no wish, and into areas that are so fundamental that we are forced to either join the euro (to have a say), or leave entirely (to implement our own).

    This is not controversial.
    This is not even complicated.

    Why can you not see this?

  • I think the Telegraph article is a fair analysis of likely future trends and I would agree with the author’s conclusion that a two-tier EU is the logical outcome.

    ” The most likely course is that non-Euro members of the EU will be to be fused together with the non-EU members of what is called the “European Economic Area” (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). The Single European State will set the rules for the Single Market, and the other members of the European Economic Area will be welcome to trade with each other and with the Single European State provided they abide by those rules.”

    That status on the periphery of the inner core of Euro-zone members may suit the Uk’s particular needs – if the right balance of sovereignty over domestic laws and regulations and costs/benefits is achieved. When the times comes to make that judgement, that would seem to be an appropriate time to hold a referendum on our membership status within the EU.

  • Richard Dean 2nd Jul '14 - 10:19pm

    It would be interesting to know what the arguments were that persuaded the MPs to back Clegg.

  • The Scottish love affair with the EU by some, is a transient passion fired by their hatred of the English. They perceive it as a passport towards recognition as a nation state and also as a huge source of funding for a small nation.

    They may be disappointed since the EU only lavishes money on states they want to entice and they regard Scotland as already in the bag.

    Furthermore, in time, the separatists in Scotland will realise that they divorced a caring mistress for a devil that has no regard for them.

  • liberal neil 2nd Jul '14 - 11:17pm

    We should accept that the public have made their view clear, as democrats, and now back an In/Out referendum.

    If we don’t, we hand the Tories a big stick to beat us with and ensure that the debate will be whether or not there should be a referendum. That will put us on the back foot from now until polling day next May and it makes us look frit.

    If we back the referendum then we move the debate on to the actual issue of our membership. We will be united as a party in arguing the case for staying in while the Tories will be split.

  • @ TJ
    With great respect, I have never, ever, come across anyone before with your apparent , complete acceptance of the wonders of the EU.

    I totally accept your right to hold such beliefs, I just find them so idealistic as to be beyond my comprehension. Please forgive my surprise, it is truly genuine.

  • @Peter

    I don’t see what you mean by my ‘acceptance of the wonders of the EU’.

    You claimed the Commission exists to negate democracy. I responded that the Commission was created to manage policy when the community-wide interest conflicts with individual self-interest fuelling races to the bottom and tragedies of the commons.

    You also used the Ireland case to claim that the system doesn’t respect national interests, when the Irish case is an example of where national interests led to the treaty being changed to accommodate the concerns raised.

    If this constitutes idealism, then call me idealistic if you like.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Jul '14 - 12:55am

    The Commission has no constituency, no-one to define what “community-wide interest” means. By contrast, the Council of Ministers has the constituencies of their colleagues in government and the electorates who elected them to govern, and the European Parliament has the constituencies of the electorates that elected them.

    Ergo, the Commission has no democratic legitimacy. It needs to be de-politicized. Its Head should not, as Junckers has done, issue a manifesto of what his priorities will be – those priorities should be told to the Head by the two bodies which do have democratic legitimacy, even if one – the Parliament – has less than the other – the Council.

  • @Richard Dean

    For goodness sake. Juncker is only going to be the head of the Commission as and when the Parliament votes to put him there!

    He needs to tell Parliament what his priorities will be so that they know whether he’s who they want to put in charge of the Commission. If Parliament doesn’t like his priorities, it would put someone else in charge of it.

    And once Juncker is placed at the head of the Commission, his legislation proposals will come from European Parliament groups, from the member states, from citizens and so on.

    Of course it needs to be made more accountable. Of course the Commission’s power to initiate legislation needs to be reconsidered. Of course a believer in liberal democracy like myself wants to see the power to initiate legislation moved so that the Parliament and Council, as equal co-legislators, deliver the instructions to the Commission rather than the present situation where in theory the reverse could be true.

    That’s the reform that’s needed.

    This posturing about Mr Juncker and this my way or the highway stuff only gets in the way of achieving that. And by going along with Nigel Farage you become part of the problem for Britain, rather than part of the solution.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Jul '14 - 1:17am

    I’m happy that you agree at last, even down to the tiniest detail. Except of course on Juncker, who should not be saying what *his* priorities are, but confirming that he is competent and will accept whatever priorities are given to him, even if (as they may often do) they change over the lifetime of a council member or parliament.

  • @Richard Dean

    I think it unlikely that we agree. Your new party opposes almost everything I believe in, and your stance rejects the very idea of parliamentary democracy that would be entrenched by any reform of the EU that I would seek or support.

    The Commission head should not be a bureaucrat, it should be an accountable figure, held to account through democratic means, via Parliament and its parties, to the people who form the electorate.

    But if in the end we go further and decide to abolish the 28 member Commission to replace it with a cabinet drawn from multi-party blocs in Parliament, drawing a thick line between the civil service and the legislature, I would be satisfied.

    If in the end we decide to revert to the Treaty of Rome and give all the power to the nation states and reject any notion that this community is greater than the sum of its parts and has common interest not served by racing to the bottom between ourselvevs, I would not be satisfied and would oppose such a move using whatever means available. Frankly, that vision of yours would make redo-from-start preferable.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Jul '14 - 1:32am

    @T-J. I do not know from where you get your visions of what my visions are. Certainly not from me!

  • I fully support T-J’s comments. Jedi’s Telegraph link is interesting and in large part seems to be a measured assessment of prospects within the EU. The only scaremongering aspect is its fixation on 2020. The author could have as easily chosen 2005 or some other date.

    The conclusion that the UK has placed itself at the periphery is not really contestable and in practice UK sourced criticism of the EU and its procedures is and will progressively be marginalised. Non adoption of the Euro will be an economic problem for the UK. Politics dictates that the UK will not join the Euro until the UK has already been materially damaged by being outside the Euro. At some point this will happen either gradually or through a precipitous event .

    Ironically, a referendum NO vote is likely to accelerate this process. However, if this were to happen it would render the process of crawling back into the EU very tortuous and haltingly slow.

    A rationale for EU refuseniks from the UK to oppose Juncker’s nomination is that Juncker is not the man to impede the developments that are needed to stabilise regional and member state economies within the Euro area; not that any other suitable candidate would really be any different. The difference with Juncker is that he does not need time to get up to speed on this issue.

  • Bill le Breton 3rd Jul '14 - 9:39am

    I didn’t think the Parliamentary Party had votes. So how can, say, Nick Clegg ‘win out’ on Euro Referendum?

  • @Richard Dean

    I get your vision from your posts here. Your idea of stripping the Parliament of its influence basically means reverting to the situation as was under the Treaty of Rome fifty years ago, except that you also want to throw out the notion that members have any common interests and hand all the power to the Council.

    Its not a vision that appeals, and in any case it fails to address the actual issues and problems with the existing structure that recent crises have highlighted. Indeed, it simply recreates the very problems that the EU has been reforming to sort out in the first place. All part of UKIP’s 1950s reenactment club platform, though, I suppose.

  • Danny Langley 3rd Jul '14 - 10:33am

    @ David Grace
    @ Dave Jones

    I’m still slightly puzzled by Tim’s position. Ignoring the reference to the European elections the article still implies Tim was in favour of changing the current policy to guarantee a referendum regardless of treaty change.

    One of the reasons Tim gives in the 2011 LDV piece you linked to for not having a referendum now is the economy, which has clearly moved on since it was written.

    So does he now want one for “lancing the boil” of anti-EU feeling, which itself would be a pretty silly and in my view illiberal reason to hold one, setting a dreadful precedent where the media and not constitutional change governs when we hold one, and flying in the face of what Tim says about the power of Murdoch in the same piece.

    One question on the current position I’m not sure I can answer: We want a referendum in the event of significant treaty change. So why not now? Does Lisbon not qualify? If not why were we asking for an in/out referendum at the time? Does the signing of a Treaty mean we no longer want the in/out referendum we said it should trigger?

  • jedibeeftrix 3rd Jul '14 - 11:27am

    ” Politics dictates that the UK will not join the Euro until the UK has already been materially damaged by being outside the Euro. At some point this will happen either gradually or through a precipitous event”

    I dispute that this will happen. It is not a necessary condition for British prosperity in any way at all.

    Further, you argument rests on the inevitability of joining, which presumably means it would enter the 2015 election manifesto…?

  • jedibeeftrix 3rd Jul '14 - 11:34am

    Looks like ‘our’ candidate was doing his level best to represents Britain’s interests:

    Solid choice!

  • Jedi: Your last sentence is just plain silly; how could you put that kind of prediction in a manifesto? Otherwise, I cannot deny that it is a matter of judgement. In fact there is an even slower way of joining the Euro which is more or less practised currently in fact, which is to closely shadow the Euro until the penny drops (!) and people realise that there is no point in a separate currency. This strategy is prone to coming to grief though.

    Even if you do not adjudge that retaining the pound need not affect ‘British prosperity, you cannot deny that without a separate pound speculators would be unable to do their stuff.

  • Solid choice!

    It sounds like he wants Britain to leave the EU, so as he was the Lib Dems’ favoured candidate should we assume that’s what they want too?

    In fact there is an even slower way of joining the Euro which is more or less practised currently in fact, which is to closely shadow the Euro until the penny drops (!) and people realise that there is no point in a separate currency

    The point is that with a separate currency we can shadow the Euro while it’s advantageous to us to do so; but if it ever becomes advantageous to separate from it (eg, to devalue in order to make our exports more competitive against those form the Eurozone) we can do that too.

    Even having the option to do that is a benefit as it makes our economy less vulnerable to shocks than that of, say, Ireland, and therefore more attractive to investors; so the very fact we could devalue may mean we never have to.

    Using the Euro would mean losing that possibility of generating an extra competitive advantage over the Euro countries by devaluing.

  • jedibeeftrix 3rd Jul '14 - 3:18pm

    I do not live in fear of the speculators, martin.

    As an extremely market oriented economy I am confident we’ll ride those waves just fine.

  • Peter Hayes 3rd Jul '14 - 6:35pm

    It is interesting the majority of posters here are not members of the Forum so can not be classed as lost members, friends or UKIP disturbing the debate. My own view is subsidiary should be the goal for reforms, not just in the EU but also in the UK, the Tory localism agenda is a sham, they want to centralise weekly bin collections never mind planning. What we should campaign for is decisions as close as possible to those involved.

  • jedibeeftrix 3rd Jul '14 - 7:11pm

    Consider me a friends disturbing the debate. 🙂

  • jedibeeftrix 3rd Jul '14 - 7:15pm

    @ martin – why could you not say this:

    “Non adoption of the Euro will be an economic problem for the UK. Politics dictates that the UK will not join the Euro until the UK has already been materially damaged by being outside the Euro.”

    Plenty of accession nations have said; we are committed to joining the euro, when the time is right…

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Jul '14 - 7:28pm

    Aren’t Lib Dems somewhat sick of these highly-spun (and we pay for the spinners!) leaked reports from tthe Parliamentary Party? Do we believe any of them?

    My only question is “was there a vote in this issue?” If there was not, how can the superannuated Cleggspinners claim that there was a challenge and it was defeated?

    Might one also venture that the Parliamentary Party’s view might be of academic interest for the next few months, presumably the Party Conference will subject such matters to a rather more robust consideration before the Party detrmies where it will stand on the matteer in the forthcoming General Election?

  • Leekliberal 3rd Jul '14 - 7:41pm

    @Peter Hayes ‘My own view is subsidiary should be the goal for reforms, not just in the EU but also in the UK’, Exactly. Bring it on!

  • Mmm well regardless of individual opinions I have a sneaky feeling that the masses will require a referendum an attitude of we know best from the top is not likely to wash in fact the more we are told it is not a choice the more people may vote against staying

    Social media will bring it to a head re Scotland I hope they stay however if they leave the union it is not significantly different than the union having a choice why can Scotland vote on the uk but the uk not vote on the EU

  • Bill le Breton 4th Jul '14 - 9:05am

    I think Tony D above is confirming what I am being told. There was no vote. The balance of the debate was against the Leader. The Leader then chose through his staff to spin the story as a win for the leadership against ‘Ministers’ and reading the Guardian there was also a suggestion that Farron and Huighes were leaders of the pro party. Yet was Farron actually at the meeting? Did he speak?

    It looks to me that the Leadership is now holding the views of his colleagues in total contempt.

  • paul barker 6th Jul '14 - 6:43pm

    I am against Referenda on principle but if we have to have one lets have a minimum turnout for it to be valid, 65% sounds reasonable to me.

  • David Evershed 7th Jul '14 - 2:15am

    The current law/policy to have an In/OUT referendum if there is a further transfer of power to the EU is not logical.

    If there is a proposal to transfer more powers to the EU but I want to keep the status quo i would have to vote OUT to stop the transfer of power.

    Better to have an IN/OUT referendum not connected with an EU treaty change.

  • David Evershed: You could vote for time to stand still, but it would still be pointless. If the EU is to move on, which as events unfold,it must, we either go along with the EU or opt to be left behind.

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