Yesterday was Nick Clegg’s birthday and he penned a piece for the Evening Standard on cake, and Europe:
You can’t have your cake and eat it (even on your birthday). Of course you can’t. In normal life, no one expects you can have the full rights to a tennis club or a fitness gym without paying your dues and signing up to the rules. Only children believe it’s reasonable to eat the cake and custard but insist that someone else eats their Brussels sprouts. Yet this is exactly what the anti-EU campaigners claim: that we can merrily leave the EU, stop paying our dues, refuse to play by the rules, but still get all the benefits of being part of the world’s largest marketplace and ask the other EU member states to shoulder all the onerous duties for us.
Not only is this self-evidently absurd, it’s also naïve. Does anyone seriously imagine that if we chose to leave the EU that, say, French car manufacturers would simply shrug their shoulders and declare that our mighty car industry should be allowed to continue effortlessly to export cars into Europe in direct competition with them? Of course not. British cars will still be exported but layer upon layer of niggling obstacles will be put in their way.