New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
9 December 2011updated 12 Oct 2023 10:56am

Where does Clegg stand?

The leader of the most pro-European party has yet to comment on last night's deal.

By George Eaton

Where do the Lib Dems, the most pro-European party in British politics, stand on last night’s extraordinary events? William Hague told the Today programme that Nick Clegg had “signed up” to the deal but it would be nice to hear from the man himself. Six weeks ago, Clegg, a former Eurocrat and MEP, warned against the emergence of a “a weaker and divisive Europe where the aims of ‘euro-ins’ are set against those of ‘euro-outs'” but that’s exactly what’s happened.

Lib Dem rebel Matthew Oakeshott has already described this as “a black day for Britain and for Europe”, attacking Cameron for appeasing the “special interests in the City of London”. More will surely break ranks. One suspects that David Owen, the former leader of the SDP, who is now a crossbench peer, spoke for many in Clegg’s party when he said:

We have to ask ourselves why the government has allowed us to get into this mess. Have we been coherently governed over the last few months? Is this coalition able to represent British interests? Or are we being driven by about 80 to 90 Conservatives who want us to get out of the EU?

If Clegg really has accepted the emergence of a two-speed Europe, it would represent his biggest U-turn to date.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Update: Clegg has now issued a statement on last night’s events. Here’s the key section:

I regret that last night it proved to be impossible to find a way forward as a group of 27 on European treaty change.

I have said for months that it would be best to avoid arcane debates about treaty change altogether and if we had to proceed down that road, it would be best to do so in a way that did not create divisions in Europe

The demands Britain made for safeguards, on which the Coalition Government was united, were modest and reasonable. They were safeguards for the single market, not just the UK.

Content from our partners
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce
How to reform the apprenticeship levy