• Nick Clegg warns of possibility of rise of fascism if EU fails to ‘come up with vision of its future’
• In interview with German news magazine, Mr Clegg adds that UK will never leave EU
In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Mr Clegg also insisted the UK would never leave the European Union, despite pressure in both Labour and Conservative parties for their leaders to commit to a referendum on EU membership at the next general election.
He said David Cameron and the Conservatives “don’t believe in leaving”, while admitting that opinion polls are showing a “growing disenchantment with the EU as a whole”.
But, with concerns growing over the future of Greece and the impact of it withdrawing from the eurozone, he had a stark warning for isolationists in both the UK and Europe of the rise of fascism.
His words come after an extremist party in Greece, the Golden Dawn, did well in recent elections on the back of anger over austerity measures forced on the country by the EU.
Mr Clegg said: “If the eurozone doesn’t come up with a comprehensive vision of its own future, you’ll have a whole range of nationalist, xenophobic and extreme movements increasing across the European Union. And, frankly, questions about the British debate on EU membership will just be a small sideshow, compared to the rise of political populism.”
He added: “At the moment, you have one emergency summit after the other, one bail-out after the other, and one government after the other gets voted out of office,” he said.
“This cannot carry on. We know this much from our continent: the combination of economic insecurity and political paralysis is the ideal recipe for an increase in extremism and xenophobia.
“And I, as a passionate liberal and pro-European, think it would be a disaster if a lack of grip and a lack of a comprehensive solution were to lead to a push to the extreme Right or extreme Left. But that’s where we are heading.”
He insisted the Tory-Lib Dem coalition was the most proactive country in the EU in trying to deal with the crisis.
He added: “If we complete the single market, as we should have done 20 years ago, we will be creating more jobs, more prosperity, more competitiveness.
“It is unforgivable that European leaders meet every few weeks and issue declarations about completing the energy market, energy liberalisation, the digital economy – and then they just don’t do it. It just requires signing a piece of paper.”
He urged Greece to stay in the euro, but admitted it was the choice of the Greeks at elections next month.