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.