Lib Dems face 'uphill struggle' in EU elections - Clegg

Nick Clegg

Related Stories

The Liberal Democrats are facing a "real uphill struggle" going into the European parliament elections in May, party leader Nick Clegg has said.

He accused the Conservatives and UKIP of playing "silly political games" and jeopardising millions of UK jobs by making a UK-EU exit more likely.

"Being in Europe, at the end of the day, means being in work," he told LBC.

Tory MP Liam Fox warned earlier that a vote for anyone other than the Conservatives risked "tragedy".

In May, voters across the EU will decide who is to represent them at the European Parliament.

David Cameron has pledged to hold an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the EU in 2017 if the Conservatives win the next general election, which is due in 2015, but the UK Independence Party has demanded a referendum sooner.

'Breathless condemnation'

"There is only one party in this country that can guarantee the people in this country will get a referendum on the EU and that is the Conservative Party," former defence secretary Mr Fox told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Start Quote

Anything could happen in May because voters will very much see the European elections as a referendum on a referendum”

End Quote Liam Fox Ex-Defence Secretary

"A vote for anyone else is likely to mean no vote for the British people on their own destiny. That would be a tragedy."

But on his weekly phone-in show on LBC Radio, Mr Clegg said: "We're getting to a point in the debate where you've got this unholy bidding war between the Conservative Party and UKIP about who can sound more breathless in their condemnation of all things European.

"Before you know it this country will find itself outside the EU. That means we would find ourselves less relevant and powerful in the world.

"But crucially there would be fewer people in work, because being in Europe, at the end of the day, means being in work.

"I'm not going to stand idly by while people play ever more silly political games and jeopardise millions of jobs in this country."

The deputy prime minister concluded: "We're going to remain the party of 'in'."

His comments came on the day a YouGov opinion poll for The Sun suggested the Conservatives would come third if the European elections were held tomorrow, with 23% of the vote, compared with 26% for UKIP, 32% for Labour and 9% for the Lib Dems.

Mr Clegg criticised the accuracy of pollsters, who he said "make wildly different predictions, almost none of which ever turn out to be the case".

"Let's wait and see what the people say rather than what pollsters say," he said, before conceding: "That is not to deny that we've got a real uphill struggle."

Liam Fox Liam Fox said a rational and reasonable debate was needed on Europe

Earlier Mr Fox, in response to a question on whether the UK Independence Party could win the forthcoming poll, said: "I think pretty much anything could happen in May because voters will very much see the European elections as a referendum on a referendum."

The Conservative MP for for North Somerset added: "It's very important that the Conservative Party is defined by the national interest, that we decide that we have to have a rational and reasonable debate about our role in Europe and our role in the world."

Meanwhile, the Sun quoted UKIP leader Nigel Farage as saying in response to the polling data: "These are exciting figures. This will be the most significant Euro election ever in this country because at last we discussing Europe and immigration - we hope to win it."

The same online poll, of 1,893 British adults on Tuesday and Wednesday, suggested that if there were a general election tomorrow Labour would get 39% of votes, the Conservatives 33%, UKIP 12% and the Lib Dems 10%.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    @andymcsmith Andy McSmith, writer for The Independent

    tweets: "You said you were as fit as a flea: in my experience, fleas aren't very fit" @afneil tells Nigel Farage. What experience, I wonder?

     
  2.  
    11:41: Carswell: I don't want to lead UKIP Sky News
    Douglas carswell

    UKIP MP Douglas Carswell - speaking on Sky News - has emphatically ruled our running for the leadership of the party. He was asked if he would stand to take over if he won his seat at the election but Nigel Farage lost in South Thanet. Mr Carswell said: "I will never, ever lead a political party. It would be bad for me and bad for the party."

    During the same interview he affirmed that "UKIP is absolutely not a racist party" despite a recent poll finding about 44% of the electorate regarding UKIP as a racist party.

     
  3.  
    11:40: Fox: maintain NATO spending target Sunday Politics
    Liam Fox

    Former Conservative Defence Secretary Liam Fox says the UK should commit to maintaining a defence budget of a minimum 2% of GDP - the NATO benchmark. He adds that a lot of Conservatives would find it difficult to swallow falling short of this target at a time when the 0.7% of GDP foreign aid budget has been ring-fenced. He says the UK reputation as a military ally to the U.S. "took a knock" when parliament in 2013 refused to authorise military action in Syria after the use of chemical weapons there. Not following trough on promises "only gives comfort to your enemies" he adds.

     
  4.  
    11:32: Farage on immigration Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage says that "prior to 2004, UKIP as a political party didn't even talk about immigration as an issue", because the net migration into the UK was only approximately 30,000. He says the "big, big moment" causing immigration problems was the opening of British borders to citizens of ten former Communist countries - as they joined the EU - in 2004.

     
  5.  
    11:29: UKIP 'gay-friendly'? Sunday Politics
    Nigel Farage

    Asked why the head of UKIP's LGBT group - who accused the UKIP leadership of not setting a "gay-friendly" tone - has resigned, Nigel Farage says people in a voluntary organisation are free to leave whenever they wish. He points out that his party does have that LGBT group, has selected two gay parliamentary candidates, and gave a rapturous reception to Kellie Maloney, who spoke about transgender issues at the UKIP spring conference yesterday. He concludes: "Repeated attempts to paint UKIP as homophobic come to nothing."

    He agrees that UKIP don't set a gay friendly agenda, but points out it also doesn't set a "male friendly agenda or a female friendly agenda". "The Most important thing is we all live together equally under the law" he says.

     
  6.  
    11:24: Farage on Russian threat Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage is now speaking to Andrew Neil down the. He says that if Russia were to invade one of the Baltic states, he would "of course" support a robust Nato response.

     
  7.  
    11:19: Current system 'going bust' Sunday Politics

    Liam Byrne tells Andrew Neil that Labour need to get the policy right as "the current system is going bust", and will add £281bn to the national debt by 2030. Tripling fees meant that three quarters of students will never pay off their debts, and "we can't afford that", he says. Labour's plan intends to fully fund the higher education system by "asking the wealthiest in Britain to fund more." He claims "the challenge is now on the Tories to rule out raising tuition fees up to £15,000" in order to fill the funding gap.

     
  8.  
    11:14: Tuition cut "fully costed" Sunday Politics
    Liam Byrne

    Shadow Universities Minister Liam Byrne tells Andrew Neil he is an "evangelist" for the Labour policy - announced this week - that the party would reduce tuition fees by a third. He says in the long-term he does believe a graduate tax is the right thing to do, but that the party currently can't commit to ensuring a graduate tax would work, as opposed to the "fully costed" policy they've decided to pursue.

     
  9.  
    11:05: Nigel Farage on Sunday Politics Sunday Politics

    Lots to come in the next hour on the Sunday Politics, with UKIP leader Nigel Farage talking to Andrew Neil following UKIP's spring conference in the past couple of days. Also on the programme, interviews with Conservative former defence secretary Liam Fox, and shadow universities minister Liam Byrne. Watch the programme now live on BBC One, or in the Live Coverage tab at the top of this page.

     
  10.  
    11:05: Sin-bin plans 'overkill' BBC Radio 5 live

    William Dartmouth describes Labour's plans to introduce a "sin-bin" system, allowing the Commons speaker to send out misbehaving MPs for an hour for the first warning, or for three sessions if they are a repeat offender, as "an absolutely rotten idea." Transport Minister Stephen Hammond agrees "it's overkill". He complains that the public are judging the politicians by Prime Minister's Questions, "where passions run high."

     
  11.  
    11:03: Commons 'sin-bin' BBC Radio 5 live

    The panel of politicians with John Pienaar are discussing a new Labour proposal to introduce a "sin-bin" system for MPs who get a little too excited at Prime Minister's Questions. Although the proposal is not yet entirely fleshed out, all politicians agree they have a soft spot for the one time of the week when there can be the liveliest back-and-forth between government and opposition - and the highest public viewing figures for the House of Commons.

     
  12.  
    10:58: Pienaar's panel BBC Radio 5 live
    Pienaar's pannel

    Click the tab at the top of the page to listen in to BBC Radio 5 Live as a panel of politicians, including shadow foreign affairs minister Gareth Thomas, UKIP's William Dartmouth, Liberal Democrat Treasury Minister Lord Newby and Transport Minister Stephen Hammond debate the day's political hot topics on Pienaar's Politics.

     
  13.  
    10:53: 'Biggest attack on British values' BBC Radio 5 live

    William Legge, a UKIP MEP and the 10th Earl of Dartmouth, tells John Pienaar it is "absolutely risible" to hear Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey talking about British values since it was the coalition government, with Labour's help, who implemented the European Arrest Warrant - which he describes as the "biggest attack on British Values."

     
  14.  
    10:52: Shapps: 'Err on the side of caution' BBC Radio 5 live

    Grant Shapps denies that the disagreement between Conservatives and Lib Dems over so-called hate preachers on university campuses constitutes a coalition "row", saying that "if I had a pound for every time people told me there was a coalition row, not only would I be very wealthy but this coalition would have ended years ago". But he admits there is some difference of opinion, and says the Conservatives want to "err on the side of caution" and draw the line of acceptable speech closer to "protecting the security of the British public".

     
  15.  
    10:48: Shapps on MPs' second jobs BBC Radio 5 live
    Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind

    Grant Shapps says he has no problem with MPs holding second jobs as long as it is "completely transparent". He says the way to avoid controversy is to "publish what you're doing, have full transparency and disclosure", and he adds that he doesn't want the House of Commons stuffed with 650 professional politicians "who have never done anything else in their life".

     
  16.  
    @alstewitn Alastair Stewart, ITV News Anchor

    tweets: I was reading about @grantshapps on @SkyNews then he pounds out of my speakers on @bbc5live @JPonpolitics Sunday politics conveyor belt.

     
  17.  
    10:42: Shapps's praise for Lib Dems BBC Radio 5 live

    Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps tells John Pienaar he'll start with some nice words about the Lib Dems, praising Nick Clegg's party by saying they "haven't wavered on their desire to see the deficit got under control", even though it would have been "easy to do so".

     
  18.  
    10:34: 'Juvenile' attitude to coalition BBC Radio 5 live

    The Times columnist Jenni Russell says MPs and the media have been "absolutely juvenile about this whole coalition business", and have chosen to criticise Nick Clegg's party "as if they had freedom of action in government". She says the Lib Dems were "hopelessly naive about the political process when they went into government", but adds that if the British people don't vote in a majority government, voters cannot complain when politicians negotiate and compromise after the election. Ed Davey, unsurprisingly, agrees.

     
  19.  
    10:34: Cable blocking 'hate preacher' plans Sky News

    Grant Shapps accuses Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable of blocking Conservative moves to crack down on "hate preachers" in universities. "There is a difference of opinion", he tells Murnaghan: "Cable doesn't want to do what the Conservatives want to do."

     
  20.  
    10:29: '75% of manifesto' passed BBC Radio 5 live
    Ed DAvey Ed Davey gets an early morning cup of tea in the Radio 5 Live studio.

    Ed Davey - referencing the trebling of tuition fees earlier in this government - says it is "easy to pick that one out" to criticise the Lib Dems, but he says voters should focus on the "75% of the manifesto commitments [from 2010] that we delivered" under the coalition agreement.

     
  21.  
    10:27: Solution to housing problem Sky News
    Grant Shapps

    Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps is now on Murnaghan. He says the solution to Britain's housing problem is pushing people to make brown-field sites available for self-build programmes. He pledges 100,000 new starter homes, which can be purchased at 80% of market value, will be built if the Conservatives get into power. "Government support" and forcing the market "to step up to the plate" will make up the estimated £3.6bn cost of this project, Mr Shapps says.

     
  22.  
    10:26: Tuition fees BBC Radio 5 live

    Ed Davey says the Lib Dems would refuse to sign up to the "stupid" policy of Labour's to reduce tuition fees, in the event of coalition negotiations after the May election. He says it is better to spend £2bn on something other than benefiting the "richer graduates" of universities.

     
  23.  
    10:21: MI5 role in jihadi John radicalisation 'nonsense' Sky News

    Over on Sky's Murnaghan programme, Dr Afzal Ashraf, a consultant fellow at the defence and international affairs think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, says it is "complete nonsense" to suggest that MI5 would have driven Mohammed Emwazi to join Islamic State.

     
  24.  
    10:19: Davey on hate preachers BBC Radio 5 live

    Following reports today that there is a row in the coalition between Theresa May and Vince Cable over so-called 'hate preachers' on university campuses, Ed Davey says "the consensus view - which the Tories used to sign up to" is that prosecutions should only occur if a speaker crossed the line into directly inciting violence. He tells John Pienaar "if you change that line, that's a dangerous attack on free speech".

     
  25.  
    10:14: Labour green record 'hopeless' BBC Radio 5 live
    Ed Davey

    Ed Davey tells John Pienaar that the Labour Party has a "fairly hopeless record" on green issues. The Lib Dems, Mr Davey says, "want the next parliament to be the greenest government ever", and to that end his party will be setting out five green bills in their manifesto.

     
  26.  
    10:10: Tuition fees BBC Radio 5 live

    The Times columnist Jenni Russell tells John Pienaar she can't understand why Labour have chosen to promise to reduce university tuition fees, which she describes as "a very strange way to spend a couple of billion pounds" given that - according to her - the issue isn't a live political hot potato any more.

     
  27.  
    10:03: 'Different types of immigration' The Andrew Marr Show

    While criticising the government's "failed" immigration targets, Yvette Cooper admits that immigration is too high. Refusing to be drawn on specifics, she says that Labour's immigration policy would "target different types of immigration." The government has taken "the wrong approach" by lumping "all migrants" into same migration target, she argues.

     
  28.  
    10:02: Surveillance powers The Andrew Marr Show

    Yvette Cooper says that intelligence agencies already have strong legal powers to implement surveillance on terror suspects. While Labour support updating surveillance powers for new technologies, she says these must have "proper checks and balances." That is why Labour have asked for the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, to review the law and recommend changes.

     
  29.  
    @JPonpolitics John Pienaar, 5 Live presenter

    tweets: On Pienaar's Politics from 10am, I'll be joined by the Energy Secretary, @EdwardDaveyMP and @grantshapps. Watch: http://www.bbc.co.uk/5live

     
  30.  
    09:56: Security services' 'hands tied' The Andrew Marr Show
    Yvette Cooper

    Yvette Cooper says Labour will bring back "the relocation part of control orders" to help "disrupt" terror plots in the UK, by moving suspects "away from their networks, away from the radicalisation, the extremist networks they might have been working with". The security services have had their "hands tied" by the current government, she says, pointing out that despite the "considerable risk" of a terror attack only one person is on a TPIM. This demonstrates that control powers are "simply not strong enough". But she adds that such powers - even if altered in the direction Labour wants - "should not be routinely used".

     
  31.  
    09:50: 'Shocking but not surprising' The Andrew Marr Show
    Kalsoom Bashir

    Kalsoom Bashir, co-director of Inspire, says it is "shocking but not surprising" that young girls are being attracted to join Islamic State, as the group have a "campaign specifically targeting young women" by "hooking into their vulnerabilities." School girls - such as Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana who are believed to be travelling to join Islamic State in Syria - are too "religiously illiterate" to know the difference between "Islam and Islamism" or "facts and lies".

     
  32.  
    09:37: 'Galvanising' extremism The Andrew Marr Show
    Helen Ball

    The UK senior national co-ordinator of counter-terrorism, Deputy Assistant Commisioner Helen Ball, says the Syrian civil war has had a "galvanising" effect on people becoming radicalised. Counter-terrorism investigations have "increased enormously" since the conflict began, while the police service are uncovering "more plots all the time". She adds the police miss the power of the "control order" - which kept terrorism suspects in their homes without access to phones or internet. She adds that it would take an "enormous number" of officers to provide surveillance on a suspect for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

     
  33.  
    09:30: Immigration 'dismay' The Andrew Marr Show

    Cardinal Nichols says he is "dismayed" that immigration has become such a big issue in politics ahead of the upcoming general election, and says all parties should have their views on immigration "tested." He adds that "the human person" must be always kept foremost in mind when discussing the issue, and he says without the "positive contribution" made by the "vast majority" of immigrants, London would "grind to a halt".

     
  34.  
    @michaelsavage Michael Savage, Times chief political correspondent

    tweets: Key ? on Labour's tuition fees - is there better way to spend £3bn? Tories/Lib Dems could now use same pensions raid to fund something else.

     
  35.  
    09:29: Politics 'everyone's business' The Andrew Marr Show
    Vincent Nichols

    Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, defends religious institutions getting involved in politics. He tells Sophie Raworth politics is "about the wellbeing of our country and that's everyone's business." He adds: "It urges people to ask what society we want to be and what role we see for ourselves in the wider world."

     
  36.  
    @patrickwintour Patrick Wintour, political editor of The Guardian

    tweets: Labour's tuition fees cut gets pasting in Sundays, but supported 3 to 1 in YouGov poll, despite voters knowing does not aid poor students.

     
  37.  
    09:21: Full surveillance 'not possible' The Andrew Marr Show
    Margot James

    On the subject of British citizens travelling to fight for terrorist movements, Conservative MP Margot James says it is unfortunately "simply not possible to subject all potential targets to the degree of surveillance that we would need in order to prevent them travelling to Syria" or other jihadist hotspots.

     
  38.  
    09:20: Paper review Daily Express

    The Sunday Express reveals how security forces finally identified Emwazi, who has appeared in several videos showing beheadings carried out by the Islamist group. The paper says spies worked out who he was after he used his student number to download discounted software after arriving in Syria. It also carries an interview with UKIP leader Nigel Farage , who calls for security services to be "given tools" to fight extremism.

     
  39.  
    09:13: Paper review The Daily Telegraph

    The Sunday Telegraph leads on a revelation that "an al-Qaeda terrorism suspect closely connected to 'Jihadi John' [a.k.a. Mohammed Emwazi] is living in London, having used the Human Rights Act to prevent the Government from deporting him". The paper also reports that two contemporaries of Emwazi's at his former school have since died while fighting alongside terrorists in Somalia and Syria respectively. Education Secretary has ordered an inquiry into the Quintin Kynaston academy in north London as a result.

    Sunday Telegraph front page
     
  40.  
    09:00: Paper review The Guardian

    Mohammed Emwazi had earlier been able to flee Britain despite being a member of a London-based terror cell that had links to the failed 21/7 attacks on the capital in 2005, according to the Observer. Associates of a 12-strong group spent time at a terror camp in Cumbria a year before the bid, the paper says. And it also reports that Labour is on course for an "absolute majority" in the House of Commons, according to a new poll commissioned by the paper.

    The Observer
     
  41.  
    08:57: 'Bizarre' response to minimum funding guarantee
    Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb said Welsh ministers were being offered 'exactly' what they had asked for

    Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has described Welsh ministers' response to a promise on minimum funding as "bizarre". On Friday, the UK government proposed a funding "floor" - guaranteeing a minimum Welsh government income. The Conservatives now want Labour Welsh ministers to call a referendum on devolving part-control of income tax. First Minister Carwyn Jones - a Labour politician - denounced the funding offer as a "vague promise", but Mr Crabb said it was a response to specific Welsh government demands.

     
  42.  
    08:49: Paper review Sunday Times

    Inside the Sunday Times, a group of the paper's reporters looks at the "bewildering transformation" of Mohammed Emwazi from a "socially-inept computer programmer" to infamous murderer. The paper leads on an alleged row in the coalition between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems: "New rules drawn up by Downing Street to force universities to ban all 'extremist' speakers from their campuses are being blocked by Vince Cable, the business secretary." And it also carries a story about a plan by some senior Tories to "Save Dave" in the event the prime minister wins more votes but fewer seats than Ed Miliband's Labour in May.

    Sunday Times front page
     
  43.  
    08:45: Paper review

    The Mail on Sunday leads with further details of the background of British-born Mohammed Emwazi, a.k.a. 'jihadi John'. The paper's security editor describes how as far back as 2010 Emwazi was convinced the security services were tailing him. Looking elsewhere, the paper's Ian Birrell writes about the recently-assassinated Boris Nemtsov, an opponent of Vladimir Putin's in Russia.

    Mail on Sunday front page
     
  44.  
    08:21: BBC One, 11:00 GMT Sunday Politics

    Today's political coverage on the BBC starts, of course, with Andrew Marr - but by no means finishes there. Join Andrew Neil on the Sunday Politics sofa at 11:00 GMT on BBC One, where he'll be joined by: Labour's Liam Byrne, the shadow universities minister; UKIP leader Nigel Farage; the Conservative former Defence Secretary Liam Fox; and the journalists Isabel Oakeshott, Nicholas Watt, and Janan Ganesh.

    Sunday Politics guests
     
  45.  
    08:20: BBC One, 09:00 GMT The Andrew Marr Show
    Yvette Cooper

    It's been a frantic week in the political world, with election fever spreading to more and more people. UKIP kicked off its spring conference; Labour announced it would reduce tuition fees by a third; and new immigration statistics proved embarrassing for the Conservative Party. But it wasn't a week spent entirely slinging mud - the coalition outlined a new devolved settlement for Wales, in a news conference that saw a show of unity and good humour between David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Join Andrew Marr at 09:00 GMT on BBC One to review the past week and look ahead to the next. His guests today include Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper; Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster; and the actress Kristen Scott-Thomas.

     
  46.  
    08:04: Good morning Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Hello and welcome to a fresh Sunday's political coverage - there are only nine more before the election takes place. Sam Francis and Adam Donald will bring you all the main news and comment from the papers, and all the key moments from the morning's programmes such as The Andrew Marr Show, Pienaar's Politics and Sunday Politics. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics

     

Features

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.