Lib Dem MEP: British demands were “reasonable”

It’s not exactly a huge surprise that Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, frequently the iconoclast* and always the strong pro-European, is disagreeing with Nick Clegg’s views over Europe today. But that makes fellow Lib Dem MEP Sarah Ludford’s view all the more significant:

Asked to comment on reports that Nick Clegg was “entirely signed-up” to [Cameron’s negotiating] strategy, she replied: “Well, you’re hearing two different narratives. President Sarkozy, who I think has been quite mischievous actually, said that David Cameron wanted to exempt the UK from financial services regulation. If that is the case, which I don’t understand to be so, it would not have been clever.

“What I understand is that David Cameron wanted financial services decisions to be quite rightly taken by all 27, for the European Banking Authority, which is one of the regulators, to stay in London, and for eurozone transactions to be able to carry on in the City of London as you would expect and not just have to be in the eurozone.

“Those were reasonable demands, so I think President Sarkozy has not been helpful, but I think David Cameron, as I say, has been saddled with the deeply unhelpful weight of the europhobes, and if [Conservative MP] Stewart Jackson regards this as a success, well, then he must be living in a fantasy world.”

Those were reasonable demands” is strong backing for the line Cameron has been taking and Nick Clegg has been supporting – although whilst freedom for Britain to regulate its financial services may be something Clegg and Cameron agree on, asking what should be done with that freedom gets rather different answers from each of them.


* And sometimes absolutely right sometimes, as when he was a pretty much lone reform voice a few years ago in the wake of one of the MEP expenses scandals.


UPDATE: I’ve now blogged a more detailed analysis of the post-summit fallout and Liberal Democrat reactions.

13 responses to “Lib Dem MEP: British demands were “reasonable””

  1. "What I understand is that David Cameron wanted financial services decisions to be quite rightly taken by all 27". No, what Cameron wanted was special treatment for the city. "The truth seems to be that during the EU summit in Brussels, European commission president José Manuel Barroso offered the UK a declaration on the level playing field in the single market. Cameron refused that, and demanded a UK protocol derogating from the single market on financial services." See McMillan-Scott's post: http://www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/eurosceptics-triumph-at-eu-summit/.

    • Hugh – you man she should not be supporting the part of the country that provides large amounts of tax ( in part from financial services) to support the rest of the UK?

    • Simon McGrath No, I mean she is standing up for her constituents, not necessarily for her party. I am not making a value judgement about that. However, since the City complains that a 0.1% tax will cause financial Armageddon, I am not sure to what extent your "large amounts of tax" argument washes.

    • Hugh Annand Graham Watson is also an MEP and not for London, and here's what he said on the radio today: "What was put forward by the UK was perfectly reasonable, it was not a demand for any repatriation of powers, it was that we should have safeguards for the single market, safeguards for the UK and these should be adopted by everyone. This was not the position that the French took, they were insisting on going ahead with at least 17 members countries and sadly David Cameron could only take the position he took and said ‘in that case we are not with you’."

    • @Simon McGrath don't forget that the financial services sector is still essentially in hock to the taxpayer following the bank bailouts and quantitative easing (which helped the whole sector not just the bailed out banks).

      It's also worth pointing out that contrary to popular belief manufacturing contributes MORE to the UK economy than financial services (12% versus 9%) but clearly the financial services industry is winning the PR battle for "special treatment" deserved or not.


    • Matthew: as a Euro-MP, Sarah Ludford has very good connections with many of the key people involved in the talks, so I think it would be wrong to assume a UK journalist necessarily knows better than her.

    • Mark Pack Edward Mcmillan-Scott is also an MEP and subsequent news reports have confirmed what he said . I have also been in touch with friends in Brussels who are in a position to know what happened and they confirm his version not Sarah's.

    • David Grace – I'll see your EMS (ironic initials!) and raise you a Graham Watson, as today he said: "What was put forward by the UK was perfectly reasonable, it was not a demand for any repatriation of powers, it was that we should have safeguards for the single market, safeguards for the UK and these should be adopted by everyone. This was not the position that the French took, they were insisting on going ahead with at least 17 members countries and sadly David Cameron could only take the position he took and said ‘in that case we are not with you’."

    • Mark, I've had a busy couple of days so sorry I couldn't reply earlier. The truth is that there is no particular reason why any MEP should have any inside information on what happens at a European Council meeting. I have however received information from someone whom I cannot name who was in a very good position to know. The UK put forward a a whole draft protocol to the Council legal service the day before the meeting, detailing various subjects in the field of financial affairs where they wished decision-taking to switch from QMV to unanimity (some in areas that have been QMV from the beginning, and some that have been QMV since the 1986 Single European Act negotiated by Thatcher). This does not fit any definition of "perfectly reasonable" as claimed by Clegg, Watson and Ludford. Nor does it amount to protecting the single market since the purpose of a veto would be block single market measures leaving each member-state to decide for itself. In any case, whatever the merits of the UK proposals, you simply cannot expect 26 other countries to bow down and accept such a document at less than 24 hours notice. Summits are usually preceded by months of negotiations. Cameron refused to negotiate about the document with the consequences we all know now. Nothing in the coalition agreement required us to abandon our principles so dramatically. Nick is now trying to row back following reaction within the party. He should have got it right first time.

  2. I prey that one day we will be liberated from this nightmare that robs us of £46m a day for which in return we get with nothing but red tape, dictats & mass immigration of people wanting jobs & homes we don't have.
    We don't have the space, jobs or housing for Millions of E.Europeans.

    EU = worst thing to happen to this country since WWII.
    Mr Clegg loves all this this though.
    But then his wife's doing nicely out of the EUrocracy.

    The significance of Geographical location has been hugely exagerated by Europhiles. We can do business with the world. Buy from the cheapest & sell for the highest. What difference does it make how close the country is.

    In the face of the overwhelming arguments & facts that indicate we need to get out of the EU all Mr Clegg can do is cry 'xenophobe'. Well that's a very strong reason for us to endure the following. I mean we don't want to be called xenophobes do we:

    EU =

    1] Evermore over crowding.

    2] A troubled currency we are insnared with.

    3] Fish thrown back into the North sea even though they've died in the nets, once quotas are reached for a particular species.

    4] Language problems. Example, my mother in law is in a nursing home on the IOW staffed by East Europeans. She can hardly understand them & the can hardly understand her. Yet good communication is essential in giving good care.

    5] High levels of crime committed by nomads who can wander from one EU country to another now including the UK now our borders are freely open to 400 million people.

    6] Child Beggars, sex traffickers & pick pockets from Romania.

    7] More competition for insufficient homes & scarce jobs.

    8] More road congestion.

    9] 10% of our orchards bulldozed into the ground because the Eurocrats decided there's over production of apples in the Euro zone, regardless of whether we happen to like Brit apples!

    10] Huge cost of £30 an hour translators in courtrooms & classrooms disrupting the education of our kids.

    11] Fat cat 'job for life plus index linked pension' eurocrats who feast on our taxes but produce nothing but red tape in return.

    12] £46,000,000 a day we give to the EU & get nothing but dictats in return. It will be £41 billion over the next 5 years! Twice what it was for the last 5 years under the previous government. Money we desperately need for our schools & our hospitals etc.

    13] It's a myth we need to be in the EU to trade with Europe. The Swiss do very nicely trading with Europe whilst at the same time enjoying the freedoms of not being in the EU.Ironically EU red tape makes it harder to do business with the EU. Yet we voted originally only for a common market to supposedly make trade easier. What have we got instead…. we are heading towards a republic of Europe where we lose sovereignty.

    14] We've lost the right to make our own laws.

    15] The latest dictat from Brussels means companies like Tescos have to reduce the number of part time workers. Regardless of whether it's suits them & their employees such as mums wanting to only work part time.

    16] East Europeans claiming child benefits for children that aren't even in the UK.

    17] Our legal system hamstrung with human rights legislation issuing forth from UN ELECTED EU judges, with terrorist bombers having more human rights than their victims. Also in respect of repatriating criminals.

    18] The accountants refuse to sign off the EU accounts because of huge discrpancies & money that can't be accounted for.

    19] In Southampton we lost the Dimplex factory because they got a fat subsidy from Brussels to move to Ireland.
    Bournemouth lost the Johnson & Johnson factory too. It's all part of the Pol Pot EU philosophy that everywhere has to be equal. Namely it's not enough the Ireland should remain a green & pleasant farming land.
    No… instead Ireland has to have by dictat exactly the same number of factories per sq mile as everywhere else. Uniformity rules according to the Autocratic Euro crats. This must be going on nationwide.
    These are just two examples I happen to know of because they are local. God knows how many other jobs we've been robbed of by Brussels. So we pay a Euro subsidy of £46m per day, some of which goes to rob us of decent productive jobs here!
    To add to the farce, some of the trainees that came from Ireland to learn the ropes in the Johnson & Johnson factory before it moved to Ireland, didn't even turn up for half the training sessions because they'd been out on the booze every night. Then some of them decided they didn't even want to go back to Ireland. Laughable if it wasn't such a waste of our money! No businessman in their right mind would move for the sake of it using their own money. But when some little job for life bureaucrats in brussels who couldn't run a whelk stall, throw our money at this sort of thing. How can any rational person possible think the EU is a good thing.
    It's the same kind of insanity that happened under Stalin.We live in the EUSSR!

    From BBC Panorama 'Preparing for the Meltdown', It's clear we need to focus on the emerging markets of the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India & China total population aprox 3 billion. That's where the future lies. Europhiles are far too preoccupied with Europe's market of a mere 400 million.Besides we can trade perfectly well with Europe without all the Brussels redtape. The EU is a confidence trick by those that profit from it by gaining power & influence or a nice cushy 'job for life' in Brussels.
    Cleggs wife is one of those.

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