Clegg denounces Cameron's EU referendum move

Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 00:00

Nick Clegg, leader of the junior party in Britain’s ruling coalition, denounced David Cameron’s pledge to hold a referendum on quitting the European Union, as polls yesterday indicated the prime minister’s move may gain him votes.

“It is not in the national interest when we have this fragile recovery,” said Mr Clegg, whose Liberal Democrats strongly favour closer EU ties, in contrast to many members of Mr Cameron’s Conservative party. “I don’t think it helps at all.” He dismissed as “implausible” Mr Cameron’s plan to take back powers from Brussels before a referendum on a new treaty by 2017 that would let voters take Britain out and said such EU talks would distract ministers from reviving the economy.

Mr Cameron would damage economic growth if he spent “years flying around from one European capital to the next, fiddling around with the terms of Britain’s membership”, he said.

In one of the first opinion polls published since Mr Cameron made his pledge of an “in-out” vote, Labour were shown unchanged and in the lead on 38 per cent, the Conservatives were on 31 per cent, up two points, while the UK Independence Party was down by the same margin, on 14 per cent (Mail on Sunday’s Survation poll).

In the Independent on Sunday’s ComRes poll, Labour were in the lead, down a point on 39 per cent; the Conservatives gained five points from last month to 33 per cent and UKIP lost four points to 10 per cent. – (Reuters)