Coffee House

Nick Clegg: I spent months making the case for an EU budget cut

12 February 2013

Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions is rarely an uplifting experience: more like watching some hapless chap stuck in a room full of his ex-girlfriends, all pointing angrily at him, like the wedding reception scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Somehow Peter Bone either manages to get his name on the Order Paper or to tag along at the end of another question to bring up one of the more painful rows in the Coalition relationship, the boundary reforms, or when he’s in a really good mood, what the DPM would do if David Cameron were run over by a bus. He did so again today, even though the Tories have already lost the boundaries vote. Zac Goldsmith was moodily grumbling, too, because the promised Recall Bill still wasn’t making its way onto the books.

Others were less kind. Toby Perkins asked whether there was any point left to the Deputy Prime Minister’s role, given the failure of many of Clegg’s flagship reforms. A lot of MPs, including one Tory, grilled him on the ‘bedroom tax’, which isn’t really anything to do with his department. In the same spirit, Clegg’s answer to Harriet Harman on this housing benefit cut didn’t really have anything to do with the topic: he started burbling on about Labour cutting libraries instead. All the while Vince Cable and Sir George Young sat on the frontbench, watching the goings-on with the detached amusement of a parson watching visitors cross the floor of his cathedral.

But as the gloomy session wore on, finally there was a ray of light. Andrea Leadsom leapt up to ask whether the Deputy Prime Minister regretted his warnings about Conservative EU policy following the first EU budget cut in history. She added:

‘Does he now believe that in fact the Prime Minister is on a bit of a roll and may also be successful in achieving the real repatriation and renegotiation of powers in the EU that will give Britain a better deal?’

Claim your gift

Clegg replied:

‘The lesson of the highly successful summit last week is that it is important to set out a tough but realisable negotiating position, as we did across the coalition. I spent months making the case for the tough approach that we took with politicians around the European Union.’

So yesterday the Labour party were keen to point out their contribution to Cameron’s success in the budget talks, and today it was Clegg’s turn to steal some of the limelight. MPs loved that, jeering and cackling away as the DPM continued to outline Britain’s successful negotiating position.

To be fair to Clegg, he was involved in developing the strategy for last week’s Brussels summit, and he also gave Cameron the green light to veto any unsatisfactory deal before the first summit too. It was something his aides were at pains to emphasise when the cut was announced. The reason he was so keen today to say ‘I spent months making the case’ is that it is in sharp contrast with his isolation when Cameron ‘vetoed’ the EU treaty in 2011; Clegg being in bed at the time.

The only small, rather inconvenient, problem, is that Clegg did say after that vote in Parliament on the Budget that a real-terms cut would be ‘unrealistic’. Still, we wouldn’t want to add to the gloom of DPMQs by being awkward about that, would we?

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • Boudicca_Icenii

    So Clegg wants to claim credit for negotiations which resulted in a miniscule EU Budget cut and only one nation of the 27 paying more.
    You guessed it …. the UK. We will be paying 6% more, making the British contribution a whopping £56million EVER SINGLE DAY for the next 7 years.
    I’m slightly surprised that ANYONE wants to claim credit for that outrage.

  • retundario

    “I spent months making the case for the tough approach that we took with politicians around the European Union.’”


    God left-wingers have got some nerve.

    It’s a minor addition to the old classics: “we don’t even understand what multiculturalism is”, “Communism was never our thing, honest guv”, etc

  • Border Boy

    Yeah Nick we believe you.

  • Barbara Stevens

    Funny, I never saw Clegg in on the telly at all, only Cameron walking to the venue. Trying to look good again on the back of someone else. The lengths this man will go to to gain populalrity, I’m sick of seeing him and hearing him.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Clegg, Bercow and Harman.

    What a veritable pack of weasels

  • foxoles

    So the Nick Clegg that called the negotiating stance dishonest and hypocritical, who called it “completely unrealistic” and ‘miles away from any other country’s position’, who said there was absolutely ‘no hope’ of ever getting a new EU budget deal, that was some other Nick Clegg, obviously?

  • UlyssesReturns

    The only reason I would ever give this over-promoted mendacious muppet a job is so that I could have the intense pleasure of sacking him for incompetence very soon afterwards.

    • Andy

      I wouldn’t waste your time if I were you dear.

  • Deputy Dawg

    So he worked hard to ensure that the outcome of the EU budget meeting was that the UK woild be paying more. That makes sense, though it is all a piece with Cameron’s inclinations.

    I am not sure why the Spectator continues to laud the increased contribitions of the UK as something worthy of praise. I’d have thought it was a pretty rubbish performance really. Indeed I would expect journalists to be determining which countries will be paying less while we are paying more – of course most don’t end up paying anything at all.

    • treborc

      You have to feel for him well no not really he’s like a left handed screw driver worthless.

    • DWWolds

      It was Tony Blair who worked hard to make sure the UK would be paying more. He did so in the last set of budget negotiations in 2005. In return the CAP was supposed to be reformed. Needless to say that didn’t happen. In other words, Blair gave up part of our rebate for nothing. So put the blame for the increase in our payments squarely where it is belongs – in Labour’s court.

      • Andy

        Which only goes to prove two things: the Labour Party is full of liars, and so is the European Union. First rule of EU Diplomacy is that the continentals will never keep their word.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        .yes…..Blair is the treacherous shyte who handed rebate money back for nowt. This is all known. The question is – what does Cameron intend to do about it? Answer – nothing.

    • HooksLaw

      The report does not laud the DPM.
      Nor should it. The LDs are not doing anything to make anybody think that coalitions are any good.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here