David Cameron's EU referendum promise is "not in the national interest" and risks derailing the fragile economy, according to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. He said most businesses he spoke to were "extremely concerned" at the prospect. Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, he said:
My priority will always remain a simple objective of building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everybody to get on in life.
And I think that job is made more difficult if you have years and years of tying yourself up in knots having arcane debates about the precise terms of the membership of the European Union before we get to a referendum.
It is not in the national interest when we have this fragile recovery, when we have a very open economy which is very dependent on investors in the car industry and the banking system and so on.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the government had a responsibility to pay off the country's budget deficit, and was "absolutely not going to change course." Speaking on the Andrew Marr show on BBC, he defended the government's record on growth and jobs.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the government was not going to change course in paying off the deficit. Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show he said:
We are absolutely not going to change course in paying off one of the world's largest budget deficits, why because if you just shrug your shoulders and say sorry it is too complicated, we end up asking our children and our grand-children, to pay off this generation's debts.
The Comres poll that shows Tory gains is David Cameron's highest personal poll rating since June 2011, indicating a big boost for him. ITV News' political correspondent Libby Weiner reports:
Andrew Hawkins of ComRes said that Conservative gains as a result of David Cameron's Europe speech were, as it stands, not enough to deny Labour an overall majority at the next election.
– Andrew Hawkins, ComRes
This week's Europe speech has clearly had an impact on Tory fortunes but the polls still show a swing to Labour large enough to give Ed Miliband an overall majority.
Europe can only be a part of Cameron's strategy - the economy is far more important and time is running out to deliver growth before 2015.
The Prime Minister's speech on Europe has halved Labour's lead in the polls, according to a new ComRes survey for tomorrow's Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror.
David Cameron promised an in/out EU referendum in a speech in London last Wednesday.
Support for the Conservatives comes at the expense of Ukip, while Labour's rating remains unchanged at 39%.
- Conservative 33% (+5 since December ComRes poll)
- Labour 39% (no change)
- Liberal Democrats 11% (+2)
- Ukip 10% (-4)
- Others 7% (-2)
David Cameron is the politician most voters would trust to renegotiate Britain's membership with the European Union, according to a poll for The Times.
The Prime Minister received 36%, Labour leader Ed Miliband was backed by 18%, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage got 10% and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg got 5%.
Most voters would want Britain to leave the European Union if a referendum were held now, according to a poll for The Times (£).
The Populus survey shows that 40% would leave, 37% would stay and 23% did not know how they would vote. After taking into account people's likelihood to vote and stripping the do not know votes, that translates into:
- 53% would want to leave the EU.
- 47% would want to stay in the EU.
Business leaders and economists at the World Economic Forum in Davos have been divided over David Cameron's referendum plans.
Among the criticisms is the potential timing of the vote, with Britain possibly deciding on whether to stay in the EU just as its members are coming out of recession.
From Davos, ITV News Economics Editor Richard Edgar reports:
David Cameron's warning that the European Union will be out-performed around the world unless it changes has not led to as much public upset among leaders meeting in Switzerland as some feared.
From Davos, ITV News Political Editor Tom Bradby weighs up how the North-South divide in the EU responded to the Prime Minister's stance.
But, he warns, despite a lack of criticism, it's a long road ahead for Mr Cameron.