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Clegg's 'centre ground' is not the common ground

The British people do not agree with Clegg; his “centre ground” is not the common ground

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You're on your own on this one, Mr. Clegg
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Rory Broomfield
On 17 December 2012 14:31

Nick Clegg's widely trailed speech this morning was more evidence that the Lib Dem leadership is living in its own fantasy world in which the EU has become its beacon.

In an effort to dispel the Lib Dem's woeful opinion poll ratings, Clegg gave a speech in which he claimed that sections of the Conservative and Labour parties have abandoned the centre ground. Over Europe, he claimed that both parties where dreaming of a fantasy world, implied that the UK could not leave the EU and keep its economy strong, and that parties which vote against EU budget increases were damaging their long-term credibility.

Opinion polls aren't on his side. As the Opinium / Observer poll in November revealed, 56 percent of Britons want to quit the EU in a referendum. In a more recent You Gov poll, 72 percent of the British public want to either withdraw from the EU or have “little more than a free trade agreement”. Indeed, Clegg is even out of step with many in his own party, with four out of ten Lib Dem supporters wanting to leave the EU.

This may be because the people see the wider world as opposed to just the EU. If Mr. Clegg were to look at global growth he would have seen that the world grew at 2.7 percent in 2011, according to the World Bank. Moreover, he would have seen that the GDP of Commonwealth nations (excluding the UK) is poised to overtake that of the Eurozone. Indeed, this is set to continue with Commonwealth nations growing at over 7 percent annually while the EU continues to shrink as a proportion of world GDP.

But Mr. Clegg is too busy looking at the EU – with its eurozone in double-dip recession, with 11.7 percent unemployment and 87.4 percent debt - and a budget which has just been increased by 2.9 percent to €132 billion, despite national objections concerning waste.

It seems the Lib Dem leadership is quite happy for the UK to contribute the €11.27 billion it paid for the EU budget in 2011 (maybe even more) but an Independent on Sunday poll at the time of the vote in Parliament showed that the British people aren't. Indeed, the poll results showed that 66 percent of those surveyed thought that UK budget payments to the EU should be cut rather than frozen and therefore supported Mark Reckless's amendment, the Conservative “rebels”, and the Labour party's position.

It goes to show that no matter what the Lib Dem leadership thinks on this issue, the people think the opposite. They certainly do not agree with Clegg; his “centre ground” is not the common ground.

Rory Broomfield is Deputy Director at The Freedom Association. He tweets at @rorybroomfield

Read more on: British public opinion on EU, nick clegg, In/Out referendum, EU holding UK back, European Union, Better off out, British public, and Do the British public want the UK to leave the EU?
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