UK Politics

Nick Clegg delivers pro-EU message for 2014

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Media captionNick Clegg's message, as released by the Lib Dems, accused other parties of pursuing "narrow political interest"

Nick Clegg has used his new year's message to tell voters the Liberal Democrats are "Britain's party of in" when it comes to the European Union.

The Lib Dem leader said other parties would put "narrow political interest" ahead of the UK economy.

Mr Clegg said UKIP "want out" of the EU, the Conservatives were "flirting with exit" and Labour "don't have the courage of their convictions on this".

He said the EU was not "perfect" but it "means jobs, trade and prosperity".

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU by 2017 - but Mr Clegg urged voters to send a message by backing the Liberal Democrat's in May's EU elections.

"Don't wait for a referendum," he said. "Don't wait for the general election. Make your voice heard now.

"Once Britain finds itself with one foot out the door, we won't just be able to turn back. So don't take that risk."

Mr Clegg pointed to a Confederation of British Industry report published last month that suggested UK households were almost £3,000 a year better off thanks to Britain's EU membership.

'Not in love'

The deputy prime minister said voters should not "let anyone jeopardise our recovery", and he criticised the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP.

"All three would put narrow political interests ahead of the national economic interest," he said.

"So, in a few months, I'm going to ask you to make a different choice.

"The Liberal Democrats are Britain's party of in. Not because we're in love with the EU, or we think it's perfect, but because being in Europe means jobs, trade and prosperity".

Speaking about the coming year, Mr Clegg mocked the "exciting breathless predictions" made by other party leaders in the past.

"After a long period of drama and upheaval in the economy, how about a year of stability rather than surprises?" he said.

"How about we make 2014 about one thing and one thing only: locking in our recovery."

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