LibDems "juvenile defence" of UK's EU membership

The coalition government has been riven by major disagreements on the EU between Conservatives and LibDems. Nick Clegg's "juvenile defence" of UK membership is a case in point, says John Redwood MP

Eurozone unemployment protest
John Redwood MP
On 7 February 2014 11:52

When Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy PM, says he wants to “keep Britain propserous, safe and strong” I say I agree. When he says he wants to stay in Europe because that “means in work” I ask: has he looked at the unemployment statistics in much of the EU recently?

He trots out the old fib about keeping 3million jobs in our export industries by staying in, as if we would lose our trade with the EU if we have a new relationship or simply left. Germany is very keen to keep the same arrangements as at present for trade so she can continue to export so much to us, whether we leave or stay in.

He should ask why so many of the Euro area countries are blighted by very high unemployment. Why are Spain and Greece cursed with unemployment of around a quarter, more than three times our rate? Why is youth unemployment at the shocking rate of 50 percent in parts of the zone? Why has Euro growth been non existent for the last three years when the UK has managed 3 percent and the USA 8 percent?

It is good to see the Liberal Democrats coming out to explain their views. Whilst they do so in ways which are often unflattering about their Conservative partners in government, it does confirm that this Coalition has been riven by major disagreements, especially on the question of the EU.

The Liberal Democrats may not be good allies. They do seem now to want to stress just how many disagreements there are. There is no sense of Ministerial unity or common purpose in a series of statements from senior Lib Dems in recent days.

There is none bigger than over the EU. The biggest disappointment for most Conservatives about the Coalition is summed up in the juvenile defence of our membership sent out this week by Mr Clegg. He is wrong that prosperity and stability have been assured in Euroland, when the opposite has been the case thanks to the Euro crisis, mass unemployment and lack of growth.

He is wrong to say the EU offers and guarantees us jobs, when the decline of the EU market has adversely hit our exports, and when countries outside the EU have been offered as good or better terms to trade with the EU than we have as an inside member.

There is indeed, Mr Clegg, a big disagreement between the two parties on the EU and our future in relation to it. It is a huge pity Mr Clegg stands in the way of getting on with renegotiating  our relationship immediately.

That could lead to more jobs and more stability for us, backed as it is by the option of leaving if a sensible relationship is not on offer.

Mr. Redwood's writing is re-posted here by his kind permission. This and other articles are available at

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