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Some cheer for Tory election planners: Clegg determined to oppose EU referendum

11 March 2013

4:14 PM

11 March 2013

4:14 PM

The last few weeks have, to put it mildly, not been encouraging for those working on the Tories’ 2015 campaign. But today brings news to gladden their hearts. For the FT’s Kiran Stacey reports that Nick Clegg is so opposed to David Cameron’s plan for renegotiation followed by a referendum that he’s considering making it a red line for any future coalition negotiation.

This is good news for Tory campaigners as it indicates that the Liberal Democrats will go into the next election opposed to giving the people a say on Europe. Now, to most voters Europe is not the deciding issue when they cast their ballot. But the Liberal Democrats being on the wrong side of it certainly won’t help them —especially given the Eurosceptic nature of the south west where there are a bunch of Tory / Lib Dem marginals. Indeed, several Liberal Democrat Cabinet Ministers have been privately saying that the party should simply accept that a referendum is inevitable and not expend political capital opposing it.

There is, though, one group that this position will help the Liberal Democrats with: big business. Big businesses tend to regard the regulatory costs of the EU as a small price to pay for the single market. It’ll be fascinating to see if the Liberal Democrats can use this position to win support from them before 2015.

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Show comments
  • http://twitter.com/MisterQuintus Tony Quintus

    With Clegg looking down the barrel of a 50% reduction in Lib Dem seats, including the one he notionally calls home, I doubt he cares anymore.

  • Daniel Maris

    Is it cheer? Let’s be clear, the UK population is pretty much split down the middle on the EU. I suspect the Lib Dems have done the calculations on this one. Being perceived as proEU may win back some younger voters.

  • dalai guevara

    What referendum? Is it me or am I the only one thinking there will be no referendum?

  • Smithersjones2013

    There is, though, one group that this position will help the Liberal Democrats with: big business

    So the Libdems want to be in the pocket of big business do they? You know the bankers and corporate tax avoiders with their £2 million mansions. I think the word hypocrite comes to mind.

    Of course it could just be another intellectually challenged journo putting the first thing that comes into his head on paper again? After all It is rather absurd that the anti-capitalist anti-growth anti-wealth Lib-dems would cuddle up to big business..

    The only likely reason they fear a referendum is that it could close down another revenue stream if we withdraw.

    • 2trueblue

      The only reason they fear us withdrawing from the EU is that they would not have a nice cushy job to go to when we get rid of them.

  • Rhoda Klapp3

    Sometimes you get the impression that a secret envelope arrives from Brussels with the secret orders in it. Then some pol makes an unexplained U-turn and history of him saying otherwise is erased. This is one of those times.

  • Mycroft

    The strange thing is that here in the SW, the same people who vote for UKIP in European elections are quite happy to vote for a Lib Dem as their MP; I can’t fathom it. But if the Tories are promising a referendum and the Lib Dems it may perhaps make some slight difference.

    • DWWolds

      Neither can I!

  • Colonel Mustard

    How much of Clegg’s position on this is rooted in his Anglophobe prejudice and bigotry, which has been demonstrated on more than one occasion?

    • Andy

      Most of it ! But he is also looking after his EU pension.

      • ffhfhffh

        Will leaving the EU mean every British person who worked for an EU institution will lose their pension? That’s crazy! That doesn’t just include politicians – what about translators, secretaries, assistants, researchers etc?

    • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

      Ask yourself what is preferable
      An open view of the world
      Or the myopic world of little englandism

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        I have asked myself this question but before answering, I would appreciate a very precise and detailed definition of the term “open view of the World”.

        • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

          We must embrace the world in its entirety taking in fresh ideas new culture and new energy
          We must stop the Government putting up “shut” signs
          We will then begin to redevelop and reinvent ourselves as we did from Hengist to Canute to William of Normandy to George of Hanover

          • 2trueblue

            Don’t think we need to embrace any other culture, redevelop, or reinvent ourselves.

            • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

              The little englanders would have us atrophy

              • 2trueblue

                What makes you think that I am English?

                • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

                  England remains the mother country of which we must be proud
                  Just like we have embraced the Welsh, the Irish and the Scots
                  So we now embrace the Bulgarians, the Somalis and the Burmese

                • Colonel Mustard

                  If you are proud of it then don’t promote ridiculous policies that threaten it.

                • 2trueblue

                  They were part of the United Kingdom you muppet. Get a grip.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Well thank you for the meaningless slogans. May I suggest that you consult a dictionary for a definition of the word definition and then try and string a few coherent and literate sentences together.

          • Colonel Mustard

            We have always embraced the world and always will without little socialist parrots like you sloganeering. You have a supreme arrogance to believe that only you can answer for the English.

        • dalai guevara

          …and it is perhaps also time for you to outline what makes you special, and what values you believe are under threat from external forces.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            I am not sure where you are coming from here and I suspect that neither do you. In an uncertain world it is gratifying to know for certain that you will never utter a word of sense or make a coherent argument. Keep it up.

            • dalai guevara

              chuzzle without wit,
              Was my question too complicated for you? You know exactly what I am on about: I have inverted your question for you, so you can define who YOU are. I am all ears.

              What.makes.you.special?

              • Colonel Mustard

                “In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman, and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true, that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God Save the King” than stealing from a poor box”.

                • dalai guevara

                  Nonsense, being a Republican does not in any way make you less of an Englishman. That is in fact absurd.

              • Colonel Mustard

                “It is a mark of self confidence: the English have not spent a great deal of time defining themselves because they haven’t needed to Those countries which do best in the world – the ones that are safe and prosperous – have a coherent sense of their own culture”.

                • dalai guevara

                  Making things up as you go along – indeed a significant contrast to the French approach of nailing down every single detail before it can take effect – what was the revision number of their constitution again?

              • Colonel Mustard

                “The value set by her people on the freedom and sanctity of the individual, on justice and fair play, on mercy and tenderness towards the weak, and their dislike of lawless violence and their capacity to tolerate, forget and forgive have been, for all England’s past mistakes and faults, a very real factor in human evolution”.

                • dalai guevara

                  These are humanist values and it would be my point that they are not at all English by nature or exclusivity – I could name people from all over the world who would subscribe to these values.

              • Colonel Mustard

                “But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet. Smile at us, pay us, pass us by. But never forget”.

                • dalai guevara

                  Yes, the secret people feels like it was written yesterday.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                I am not aware of any instance when I have claimed to be special so perhaps you could point me towards the offending claim. You may have confused me with the manager of Real Madrid who has indeed claimed to be special so you might prefer to pursue your enquiries with Jose. Alternatively, you could just knuckle down at nursery school today and stop wasting my time.

                • dalai guevara

                  I somehow knew I could not discuss details with you, and you have confirmed that indeed you are not special, just a loud mouth.
                  Other than that, the discussion has moved on, as you might care to note. Thanks again for your input devoid of any content.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Bad day at nursery school? Not even a star for turning up? Plenty of vitriol and self regard but still no indication of when or where I claimed to be special.

                • dalai guevara

                  No, I took it back – you are NOT special. Apparantly it is you who needs help with your dyslexia. Are you the incarnation of what we call a dropout?

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  “Apparently” somebody wasn’t paying attention during his spelling test! You can take back what you like but I am still fascinated to know from whence came the original accusation. Quick, before mummy sends you to bed.

                • dalai guevara

                  There was no accusation – you demanded explanations without being prepared to give your own. And you still aren’t.
                  Now you are having a tantrum, and no one can quite see why.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  I was trying to clarify what another contributor meant by an “open view of the world” before proffering a reasoned response.I was making sure I understood the point before responding. Suddenly, some misguided child leaps aboard and asks me “What makes you so special” for no apparent reason and offering no explanation beyond a stream of gratuitous insults. I don’t have tantrums old boy because I am far too self assured, successful and self-satisfied to allow pointless little people like you to disturb my sang froid.

                • dalai guevara

                  Now now, please do read my first post to you again, and then your own first response to mine. Do I know you are English? You could be Welsh for all I know.

                  Sang froid is what you wish you had, sang chaud is what you actually display. I give you the last word.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  I asked a question of somebody else and you waded in simply to insult me by making an arrogant assertion: “what makes you special”. I am then supposed to ignore my original enquiry with another party to answer your rude and frankly elliptical intrusion. Your mode of approach is unlikely to elicit a polite response from even the most patient and tolerant of individuals. Indeed, I suspect that your purpose is to emphasise your own cleverness rather than seek an alternative opinion.

            • Colonel Mustard

              “It would be wrong to underestimate the English (their) national character has a flaw of putting tradition above all, retaining for as long as possible what might have been right some decades before. But it is possible that in an emergency the British would be capable of letting everything go and becoming surprisingly modern…The British are capable of a complete transformation when thinking that their country is in imminent danger, and …they are at their most formidable in that situation”.

      • Colonel Mustard

        You seem to have a problem with which end of the telescope to look through. It is Clegg’s attitude towards England that concerns me not England’s attitude to the world. England already has a long and proud history of engaging openly with the world without the need for your help. Clegg on the other hand is rapidly becoming a little european.

        I’m glad you sorted out your identity problems although “vrai” for telemachus is a bit of a stretch of the imagination.

        • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

          The way I read it most commentators hereabouts decry the cross fertilisation of our dying culture and the opportunity to drive forward a rejuvenated Europe. They prefer a cosy chocolate box England not fit for my children or grandchildren

          • Colonel Mustard

            Your culture might be dying but my isn’t. If you don’t like it nothing is preventing you from going somewhere more suited to your ideas – like North Korea.

            “The English have a rich heritage of radical thought and action. We have produced a long list of English radicals and great thinkers who have never allowed their thoughts and ideals to be constrained by the times in which they lived or the governments they lived under. In times gone by the English have always been willing to take a stand for new ideas in which they believed and have never allowed others to impose their views upon them. The government feared the people and it worked much better that way.

            There are those who would say that these ideas of the freeborn Englishmen and Anglo-Saxon democracy are a romanticised myth but it is this very ideology that has shaped the development of English society and our political and social history. The idea of an early Anglo-Saxon democracy is at the core of the English radical tradition and it was an outlook that many paid a heavy price for but it was also the inspiration behind such things as, the English Revolt, the Bill of Rights, the Levellers, Diggers, Parliamentarians, 19th century trade union movement and the Chartists. It also inspired those who wrote the American constitution. It is from our people who we have inherited our rights as freeborn Englishmen. It has been our struggle, and we should not allow others who care nothing for any of this to give away our inheritance cheaply – especially when it is not theirs to give.”

            http://www.tha-engliscan-gesithas.org.uk/

            http://www.regia.org/

            • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

              Absolutely
              It inspired the Chartists who inspired the reasonable of today

  • alabenn

    The only reason Clegg will fight on a no referendum platform is because he sees it as certain that the out vote will win.

    He is a man without principle,” then again that seems to be the norm in politics these days” who will have looked at the current polls and as of now they could go either way will then look at Cameron or Miliband and realise with either of them two leading the in vote, defeat will be almost certain.

  • Bert3000

    Clegg will go into the election ‘opposed to giving the people a say…’ Just like Mrs Thatcher went into every election as Conservative leader.

    The referendum is a pointless waste of time to keep the loons happy. It’s already damaging Britain with the uncertainty it’s creating and opposing it is a sure vote winner.

    • alabenn

      Really, is that uncertainty not in anyway related to the possiblity that the Euro might collapse or even the whole construct of the EU breaks up.
      Would you not consider that uncertainty is what you get when you build a house of cards that has been built without any solid foundation.
      The spurious prevented and will prevent war even if true is not solid reasons to create a new state, nor is trade which is subject to the economic vagaries around the planet.
      It will fail because there are bigger disasters waiting to come along than the financial crisis, although this has not yet reached its climax.

  • http://twitter.com/apostolouc chris_______________

    and here was Clegg calling for an EU referendum, complete self-serving hypocrite:

    http://labourlist.org/2011/10/nick-clegg-calls-for-a-referendum-on-europe/

  • http://twitter.com/A_Liberty_Rebel A Libertarian Rebel

    “Clegg is so opposed to David Cameron’s plan for renegotiation followed by a referendum that he’s considering making it a red line for any future coalition negotiation”.

    In the unlikely event of Cameron being in a position to form a government in coalition with the Lib Dems after the 2015 GE, he’d capitulate to Clegg’s red line & drop his own “commitment” like a shot: aware that the electorate who’d just voted for him on the strength of it would be able to do nothing about it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

      Not sure I believe this
      In this case Cameron knows he is dead if he wavers
      He is gambling on not getting into power to both keep him at the helm and keep him in Europe

    • jimmy mac

      When asked what would happen in a hung parliament, he said, “If I’m Prime Minister, there will be a referendum”.

      • http://twitter.com/A_Liberty_Rebel A Libertarian Rebel

        Sorry – not true. Cameron’s original speech was “…any government I lead..”, clearly implying his commitment would not be derailed even in the event of a coalition post-2015.

        That commitment has, since then, already been rowed back from and watered down to now being conditional on a Conservative majority government. It would not survive coalition negotiations.

        All this is, however, academic, as there is scant chance of the Cameron-led Conservatives securing either a majority or largest party status in 2015.

  • Archimedes

    The LibDems are a bit like one of those shopping trolleys that can’t turn: eventually it crashes.

  • Andy

    What a surprise. But of course Cleggy would oppose the idea of a referendum:
    a, We the PEOPLE are not supposed to have a say in such matters, and
    b, Cleggy has taken the EU Euro.

    So what do you expect ??

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700430683 Tony Webb

    Big business supports the EU because the compliance fees keep the market share in their fold. They’ll happily pay for that advantage over smaller, more adaptive and inventive SME’s that can’t afford the compliance fees.

    The Single Market, isn’t a Free Market, far from it.

    • DWWolds

      I remember being in a meeting in Rensburg in Schlesweg Holstein some years ago when a Deputy Leader of one of Germany’s key industrial sectors actually said: “We are not like the English. We don’t believe in free trade. We believe in protecting our industries”. I thought I’d misheard him at first. I hadn’t.

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