Europe - The morning after the night before


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Sir Isaac Newton had it right. He may have been writing in 1687 about mechanics but his third law tells you all you need to know about the split in the Coalition on Europe.

"To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction."

Nick Clegg's switch from defending David Cameron's negotiating stance to condemning it in the space of just two days would appear to have been a reaction to the crowing of Tory Eurosceptics and the Tory press about the use of the veto and the anger that it produced in his own party.

Senior Lib Dems, led by Paddy Ashdown and followed by Vince Cable, made absolutely clear to their leader that they did not share his understanding of the prime minister's negotiation.

Word then emerged from Brussels that the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, had offered David Cameron a deal in which, in return for lowering his demands, the EU could take steps towards fiscal union without amending its treaties and without the Eurozone going it alone.

Clegg, who'd been pretty upset from the moment he heard about the veto on Friday morning, felt he had to react.

Why the delay? One of his friends puts it colourfully and developing a metaphor first used by a French diplomat*: "If your wife's been out all night you're livid in the morning but first you have to check whether she has had an accident. Once you discover she's been sleeping with your friend you're entitled to let her have a piece of your mind."

* A French diplomat compared David Cameron's negotiating position in Brussels with a man who goes to a wife-swapping party without bringing his wife.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    loop @ 162

    I say 'pandering' since DC's promise to hold a referendum was made to placate, rather than because he believes it's the right course of action.

    Hence he will dodge, duck, dive as necessary in order to avoid having to do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    170 ckb911x

    Sorry for the delay, old boy, but had a carol concert to go to last night and have been busy working this morning. Haven't quite mastered the being in two places at once trick yet.

    Thank you for your message. Duly noted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    What a great pity that all these leaders have lost the skills of - Leadersip / Management / Motivation / Encouragement / Praise and Reward !!

    Basic skills that when used correctly always bring results !!

    If the concept of Europe is to work, then there has to be a greater joining of hands together in Long Term Co-operation with the above skills being used !

    If Not - Failure will always result !

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Can you not see Clegg for what he is now he has been exposed by terrible circunstance as the bumbling nowhere man, do me a favour!

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Just as I suspected. Inept preparation followed by lousy negotiation. No doubt in the front of Dave's mind were his back benchers and the knowledge that walking away would boost his ratings in the polls. A PM in the popularity stakes with an interest group back-seat (or bench) driving hardly inspires confidence. Not what I call leadership.


Comments 5 of 178



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