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 Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 619.

    Lets face it , Nick Clegg has no influence or standing within the political arena. The Conservatives know it which is why they can railroad over the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems cannot divorce themselves from the Conservatives because they would then commit political suicide because most of their MPs would lose their deposits in another General Election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 618.

    I think this petty condemnation of Britain that is emanating from Europe speaks volumes of how desperate they were to secure this treaty change so that, at the expense of Britain and the City of London, they could bail themselves out of their own mess! Maybe Clegg should remember which country he is supposed to be focused on governing...

  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    The characteristics of the Bull-dog. Stubborn, Dumb, Inflexible, Stupid. That's is Cameron alright.

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    Paid more attention to you when you worked for the free pres - ITN. Once again you prove on your bulletin tonight the BBC is hell bent on using every opportunity to drive a wedge in the coalition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.

    I'm sorry but I find the BBC reporting of this situation to be completely biased and unacceptable. The Lib Dems are so out of touch with the majority of the voting population and Labour continues to blow any way it can to try and get re-elected. Cameron had the courage to stand up for GB and should be applauded; it's time the BBC presented a fair, and unbiased, reportage of this situation.


Comments 5 of 619



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