Nick Clegg spoke today about why the Prime Minister’s strategy on EU relations is dangerous and wrong. While we didn’t agree with everything Nick said, we welcomed his emphasis on workers’ rights, because it shows that some in the Coalition, at least, recognise what it is about the EU that has popular appeal, as opposed to factional interest.
Nick is, of course, a traditional pro-European, although he does of course recognise the case for reform: who would want to back the status quo on anything, these days? We don’t agree with all of his priorities for reform, but his intervention made it clear that the fault line on continued European membership doesn’t run right down the middle of British politics, but between a mainstream majority and the hard right: Tory Eurosceptics and UKIP.
And he opened up the prospect of a debate over Europe which focuses on what benefits the majority, rather than on the sectional interests of the City and the europhobes whose main interest is taking Britain back to the society of the 1950s and the non-union workplaces of the 1850s.