Clegg against the EU referendum: not in the national interest
The Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg has said that David Cameron’s promise to hold a referendum on UK membership of the EU is not in the national interest and risks the country’s fragile economy.
Mr Cameron said that he wants to remain in the EU, but would claw back powers and give voters the option of a new relationship or an exit by the end of 2017; this would happen if the Conservatives win the next election in 2015.
Mr Clegg dismissed the renegotiation on the referendum at this point and said that the Prime Minster should prioritise the economy: “My priority will always remain a simple objective of building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everybody to get on in life.” The Liberal Democrats leader spoke on BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show.
He added: “It is not in the national interest when we have this fragile recovery, when we have a very open economy which is very dependent on investors in the car industry and the banking system and so on.
“You must always, when you are trying to piece together a recovery, foster those precarious conditions of greater confidence in the economy. You mustn’t do anything to make that more difficult.”
The Labour leader Ed Miliband said that he would oppose a referendum: “I just don’t think it’s in the national interest. Right now it doesn’t make sense to commit to a referendum years ahead.”