Europe - the coalition shakes


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Well, that's clear then. Nick Clegg has described the outcome of the EU summit as "potentially damaging for Britain as a whole".

He said it was "spectacularly misguided" to call it a triumph.

He declared that "there is nothing bulldog" about hovering over the mid-Atlantic.

He pledged to "fight, fight and fight again" to keep Britain in Europe and influential in it.

Those are the phrases from his interview with Andrew Marr which will grab the headlines but there are two claims which are equally significant.

Firstly, the deputy prime minister claimed the outcome would have been different if he had been prime minister at the talks as he would not have to worry about Eurosceptic backbenchers - in other words David Cameron's veto was not the fault of European politics but the inevitable consequence of Tory politics.

He may be wondering this morning why he agreed to a negotiating position which allowed a Conservative Eurosceptic to say "No", blame Europe for it and declare that he had Lib Dem support.

Secondly, Nick Clegg said that those who worried that this deal might damage rather than protect the City of London "might be right". In other words the veto may not even have achieved its goal.

The proposal for a financial transaction tax was always separately veto-able by Britain. The argument about City regulations was about the danger of a newly united eurozone being able to outvote the UK - using qualified majority voting or QMV - under new rules which are still due to come in 2014.

So, now we have a government split between a party which wants to see this veto as the first step to a totally new looser relationship with the EU and a party led by a man who's pledging to "fight, fight and fight again" to stop that happening.

Can a coalition split so spectacularly on Europe be sustained for three and a half years? Will either side want it to be?

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    So why didn't he say all that stuff to Cameron at midnight before the summit then? Clegg, now with less influence than Bill Cash, is being reduced to desperate pleas through the media that he has any say at all in this Torylition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Which is a totally differant position that Clegg took on the Friday when first in front of the cameras

    Little wonder the Limp Dims only poll 10% or below, I salute Cameron for once he has acted in Britains interests, this deal only suits the Germans and does nothing to solve the debt crisis.

    The French supported it as Sarkozy thinks he will get his wish for Eurobonds,

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    What Clegg is doing is showing the Lib-Dems yet again trying to be all things to all people all the time.He needs to understand that when you're in power you're there at the bidding of the majority not the minority.The Lib-Dems, whether the coalition lasts or not, are finished as a political force.They're too ready to dump their priciples in order to cling to power now.Labour or no different.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    What a spectacularly misguided position from Mr Clegg. Was he lying before when he backed Cameron? Did he really set out this position to Cameron before the veto was used? Does he think Britain even cares?

    This is nothing more than jumping on the Labour and left wing press band wagon. David Cameron correctly stood up for the British voter and has support from the vast majority of the public.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Lets retreat back to the EEA. At the moment nobody listens to us in the EU and we get the blame for everything. Lets just sit on the sidelines, take no responsibility and let them try and implement their unwieldy, undemocratic Franco-German compromises. I love Europe, but the EU is something quite different.


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