Thursday, 8 December 2011

Clegg on the eurozone

These are the latest quotes from Clegg on the eurozone crisis. Despite him saying he is "hand in glove" with David Cameron - which sounds a bit creepy by the way - on the issue of financial regulation, it doesn't quite feel that way. He points out that he is not asking for "exceptional" treatment for the City.

Deputy Prime Minister, what do you hope will come out of tomorrow’s meeting on the Eurozone?

Well, what I want to see, and what this whole Coalition Government wants to see, on all sides of the Coalition, is that we do the right thing for the country as a whole, in the national interest. What does that mean? It means firstly that we of course must play our bit in making sure that the Eurozone sorts itself out, because that’s good for our economy, it’s good for jobs and growth in Britain. And secondly, we must do everything we can to avoid a great big split in the European Union. Because if you split, you fragment the single market, which, after all, is the world’s largest borderless single market. That’s bad for jobs and growth in this country. Three million people are dependent for their jobs on our access to the single market. I have been speaking to a large number of European leaders over the last several days and weeks and, you know, that British perspective is one that is widely heard and widely shared by many other countries in the European Union.

What do you expect the Prime Minister to be asking for at that meeting?

The Prime Minister has been quite clear, and this is something that we all share in this Coalition Government, I mean I work in lockstep, hand in glove, with the Prime Minister on these issues, and as we are supportive to the Eurozone so they can sort their problems out, in return they introduce safeguards to ensure precisely what I said: that the single market is not fragmented and that important industries like the financial services industry are treated fairly. Not exceptional treatment, but are just simply treated fairly, on a level playing field within Europe.

You’ve said twice now that you’ve got to ensure there is no fragmentation of the market. Is there a danger that could happen?

There is always a danger at a moment of crisis, when some countries are part of the Eurozone and others are not, that you get, in the rush to create an instant solution, that you get momentum towards different solutions for different parts of the European Union. I think that might be tempting in the short term, but could be damaging in the long term. We have to remain, as we always have been as a country, absolutely part of our European backyard, our neighbourhood, and we’ve got to be able to continue to sell our goods and services, and create growth and jobs in this country, because of our place in the single market.

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