Two things which interested me from this afternoon.
First, an e-mail Nick Clegg has sent to party members on the European summit shenanigans:
Support for Europe has always been a cornerstone of what our party stands for. Recent days have been tough for pro-Europeans in our country, but I am clear that it is in Britain’s national interest to remain at the heart of Europe.
As I have made clear since Friday, I am bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last week’s summit, which ended with the UK in a minority of one. There is now a real danger that over time the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the EU and as a consequence, our influence in the world will shrink. That is not good for jobs and growth; and will do nothing for struggling families across the country.
There is no doubt that we were in a difficult position because of the refusal to compromise from some member states and the eurosceptics in the Conservative Party. It was clear that some combination of guarantees on the operation of the single market, including in financial services, was necessary if we were going to ensure the safe passage of the package through Parliament. I regret the negotiations failed to arrive at a compromise, as I had hoped.
It is important that we now look to the future. That’s why I, as a Liberal Democrat in this Coalition Government will do everything I can to make sure that this setback does not become a permanent divide. I am determined that we redouble our leadership on things like the single market, the environment, foreign policy, and defence – all the things that we need to do at a European level.
All my political life I have believed that Britain is stronger, better, greater when we lead and when we stand tall in Europe. Now, more than ever, we need a strong Liberal Democrat voice inside government making this case.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister
I accept that it would be completely counter-productive for Nick to send out an e-mail that was directly critical of Cameron. I’m happy to say that I think Cameron executed the plan badly, but I’ll never be working in his Government. I feel that the e-mail needs to connect a bit more, to give more practical examples of the damage that could be done as a result of our isolation. I think it should have repeated the “bulldog” line from yesterday: “there is nothing bulldog in hovering in the mid Atlantic…”. The punchiness and sense and voice of reason that came across yesterday on Marr only partially comes across in this.
Why can’t they put a link to the iPlayer of Nick on Marr? Why not have him shoot a You Tube clip with an iPhone? I just think that they could have livened it up a bit.
It’s quite important as well that they deal with the attack lines people are likely to get on the doorstep from the other parties and this e-mail does nothing to deal with the “Incredible Sulk” and talking Britain down nonsense we’re getting in the Daily Fail at the moment. I mean, Nick talking Britain down? From a paper that portrays us a nation of drug addled, violent, lascivious, benefit scrounging feral savages?
And, finally, there was an apostrophe missing from “last week’s”. I literally couldn’t allow that to appear on here. The hives it brought out in me are just fading now.
The second thing is something that really made me giggle. Just before Cameron’s statement, the BBC News Channel interviewed Tory Euro-sceptic Douglas Carswell and Labour’s Keith Vaz. Carswell kept going on about the moves to fiscal union which he kept referring to as the FU. Whatever your politics, it was an amusing moment. That brightened an afternoon when my lurgy, which has long outstayed its welcome, has been asserting itself on my sinuses.