Clegg's Lies on Europe: 'Wilful' and Knowing
Readers may have seen both debates that Nick Clegg had with Nigel Farage on the future the UK’s relationship with Europe. In the second debate on the 2nd April, the Deputy Prime Minister cited government research stating that 7 percent of our primary laws and 14 percent of Statutory Laws come from Brussels, refuting Nigel Farage's claims that 75 percent of our laws come from abroad.
Farage, given little time to reply, replied “You are wilfully lying to the British people." Clegg’s pain was clear to see.
Most people have forgotten the column written by Clegg for the Guardian, dated the 8th December 2003 when Clegg was a Member of the European Parliament. He was a regular writer with the Guardian from July 2001 to June 2006. In this column, he stated:
"MEPs are parliamentary giants. Don't snigger. There are many legitimate criticisms to be made of the European parliament, but irrelevance or lack of importance, the stock accusations, are laughably wide of the mark.
"Probably half of all new legislation now enacted in the UK begins in Brussels. The European parliament has extensive powers to amend or strike down laws in almost every conceivable area of public life.
"It is no exaggeration to say that MEPs are now Europe's most influential lawmakers. The European parliament is blissfully free of overweening government majorities. Individual MEPs, regardless of party affiliation, exercise a degree of direct leverage over legislation unheard of in national parliamentary systems."
One has to say that Farage seems to have vindicated: any potential libel trial(!) seems to have little chance of getting through.
It is not the first time the Liberal Democrats have been accused of misleading the public over Europe. Highly pro-EU in their views, they have tried to neutralise British Euroscepticism by promising a referendum on the UK’s future at general elections. The campaign leaflet entitled “It’s time for a real referendum on Europe” is viewed by many as no more than an attempt to kick the EU issue into the long grass.
Gawain Towler, a UKIP MEP candidate said to me today “The sadness of Nick Clegg’s position is that he evidently believes what he says, whenever he says it. The inconsistency and mental gymnastics required by him resembles the White Queen, believing 'six impossible things before breakfast'."
What percentage of legislation emanates from the EU may ultimately be too different to quantify. However from his words Farage has a case to add “and knowingly” to “wilfully lying to the British people.”