Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

UK Should Be Leading, Not Leaving, the EU

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 11th January, 2014

Danny AlexanderWith just five months to go before the European elections, the junior partners in Britain’s governing Coalition, the Liberal Democrats, have been showing just how much  they differ from their Conservative partners when it comes to the country’s relationship with the European Union. The Party Leader, Nick Clegg, as well as its President, Tim Farron, have made abundantly clear why the LibDems are the party of “IN”, not “OUT”, as many Tories appear to be, aping UKIP. This weekend, the LibDem Treasury Secretary, Danny Alexander, has a strong piece on Liberal Democrat Voice (Link here: arguing that Britain mustn’t fritter away its EU influence when it could be leading the drive for jobs and growth. Danny is well placed to comment, having followed EU affairs closely since working as a young man for the European Movement. But I would go further than him and say that without Tory shilly-shallying, Britain could be leading the EU, as an equal patrner alongside Germany. The Germans would love that, especially now that France has a rather flakey President in Francois Hollande. And we have so much to offer the EU. We could be championing reforms that do need to occur, but are franklçy unlikely to do so long as Britain has its coat on and one hand on the door to leave, as European Council President Herman van Rompuy once brilliantly put it. So in the run-up to May, the two Coalition government partners will be singing from very different hymn-sheets when it comes to Britain in the EU — and it is vital that that LibDem voice be amplified, in the best interests of this country.


One Response to “UK Should Be Leading, Not Leaving, the EU”

  1. Alex Macfie said

    This is all fine, as a comment on what a Lib Dem thinks should be the UK government position on engagement with other EU countries. But what has it got to do with the *European* elections? The UK’s role in Europe is a matter for domestic policy, not for our MEPs. Of course we’ll be singing from different hymn sheets in May, just as our MEPs are singing from different hymn sheets every day seeing as the national Coalition does not apply there. MEPs from the two groups are each members of their own separate “coalitions” (us in ALDE, and the Tories with the “nutters, anti-semites and homophobes” (© N. Clegg) in ECR). The difference being, of course, that the national Coalition government is necessitated by electoral arithmetic, while our membership of ALDE is out of choice, from perceived ideological commonality between member parties. So as a European candidate, you should be talking more about the vision of the Lib Dems and their allies in ALDE have for the EU as a whole. We really need to get European election campaigns focused on that, so as to demonstrate the point that European elections actually make a difference to European policy.

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