Wednesday, 21 April 2010


The opposition parties, especially the Conservatives, are likely to target us on this issue in coming days as the leaders focus on foreign affairs in the leaders' debate on Thursday. Setting aside my advice to any Tory leader to avoid reopening the European wound that still gapes in the Tory side, let me quote what the Lib Dem manifesto (page 67) says:

'We believe that it is in Britain's long-term interest to be part of the Euro. But Britain should only join when the economic conditions are right, and in the present economic situation, they are not. Britain should join the euro only if that decision were supported by the people of Britain in a referendum.'

Now that commitment will not be popular to many people but it is a clear, unequivocal statement of where we stand. Two key points must be made, in bold, below:

1. We do not plan to do this any time soon. It is NOT a manifesto commitment, merely a statement of our beliefs.

2. We have clearly promised a referendum on this or any other major change to our relationship with Europe.

Can the Conservatives in particular be this clear?

For those of you still reading, as this is not a topic of major interest to most voters who have given it a second's thought, allow me to remind you that the Conservatives took us into Europe without a referendum, the Conservatives signed the Single European Act - committing us to joining a single currency in the future - without a referendum and the Conservatives signed the Maastricht Treaty establishing the larger European Union without a referendum.

Liberal Democrats are clear and open about our commitment to Europe. Are others?


  1. I suspect Nick will just stick with the manifesto line in the debate, which is fair enough, but if I were him I'd be even more forceful in ruling out joining the euro in the immediate future - no prospect of joining in the next Parliament or even the next decade.

  2. That would be a good approach. I think we can trust Nick to do the right thing.