Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has issued a warning to the Tories to concentrate on fighting the “firestorm” in the eurozone rather than trying to re-negotiate Britain’s membership of the European Union.
As David Cameron prepares to deliver a keynote speech in the new year setting out his vision of Britain’s future in the EU, the Liberal Democrat leader said the UK should have the confidence to take the lead in Europe.
The Prime Minister is widely expected to demand a repatriation of powers from Brussels as the price of agreeing financial reform of the eurozone, with the promise of a referendum after the 2015 general election. But Mr Clegg insisted that talk of a referendum was premature and was “political shadow boxing”.
He said: “What we really should be doing is focusing on the economic firestorm at hand, working co-operatively to help them put out the fire in the eurozone and to come out of this phase of economic emergency.
“I think to have a referendum when you’re in the middle of an emergency repair job to your own economy and the European economy, is putting the cart before the horse.
“It’s political shadow boxing to try and anticipate a process of which we’re not one of the principal authors and then start prescribing how we should react.”