Danny Alexander attacks Tories over EU exit 'flirting'

Danny Alexander

Related Stories

Lib Dem cabinet minister Danny Alexander has weighed in to the growing coalition row over Europe.

In an article for The Independent, he accused senior Conservatives of threatening the economic recovery by "flirting" with an EU exit.

The chief secretary to the treasury warned jobs could be put at risk if the Tories kept up their rhetoric.

It comes after his Lib Dem colleague Vince Cable compared the Tory stance on immigration to Enoch Powell's.

Mr Alexander warned that Conservative anti-EU sentiment in the run up to May's European Parliament elections would send a "shiver of doubt" through the boardrooms of companies considering investing in the UK.

"The fact that some senior Conservatives are arguing that Britain should vote to leave the EU is already unsettling investors and threatening jobs and growth.

"Further pandering to anti-Europeans would be bad for the British economy."

'Too quiet'

Mr Alexander, who was a leading figure in the campaign for Britain to join the euro before becoming an MP, said the Lib Dems would be the only party campaigning in the elections on an "unambiguously pro-European message".

Start Quote

Vince Cable's a bit like an old uncle at Christmas - slightly rude, does not always make sense, but he is part of the extended family so you live with it”

End Quote Grant Shapps Conservative chairman

He said the party - which fears another drubbing in May's polls, which are being held on the same day as local elections - would campaign on the threat to British jobs if the country votes to leave the EU in David Cameron's promised referendum in 2017.

Citing research by academics at South Bank University which estimate 3.5 million jobs depend on exports to the EU, he said: "Pro-Europeans in Britain have been too quiet for too long. Next year is an opportunity to make our argument heard, and the Lib Dems will make sure we take it."

On Sunday, Vince Cable angered Conservatives by comparing their stance on the end of working restrictions on migrants from Romania and Bulgaria to Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech.

'Hopelessly split'

Enoch Powell's speech in 1968, with warnings about inter-racial violence in the UK, led to it being known as the "rivers of blood" speech. It prompted his sacking from the Conservative front bench the next day.

Conservative MP Nigel Mills said Mr Cable should stand down from the coalition government over his "ridiculous" comments, saying it would now be "very hard" for the business secretary "to sit around the cabinet table" with the people he had criticised.

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps told the Evening Standard: "Vince Cable's a bit like an old uncle at Christmas - slightly rude, does not always make sense, but he is part of the extended family so you live with it."

The issue of immigration has been high profile ahead of the ending of the last work restrictions in the UK for people from Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January.

The Conservative and Lib Dem coalition have announced restrictions on access to benefits - but Mr Cable opposes the idea of a general cap on EU migration to the UK, which Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May has been exploring.

Labour immigration spokesman David Hanson said: "The government are hopelessly split and increasingly acrimonious on their approach to the end of transitional controls for Bulgaria and Romania.

"Rather than come up with practical measures in a calm and measured way, they have descended into name-calling and panic. Once again the rhetoric fails to match the reality with this government on immigration."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More UK Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    @HeartSussexNews Heart FM Sussex & Surrey News

    tweets: #HeartNews @Ed_Miliband asked about rail renationalisation. Says East Coast was better in public hands "gotta change the system and we will"

     
  2.  
    @Andrew_ComRes Andrew Hawkins, ComRes chairman

    tweets: Nick Clegg doing mental health phone-in on LBC tonight: will be interesting 2 hear how reconciles concerns w/desire to relax skunk laws

     
  3.  
    @Number10gov UK Prime Minister

    tweets: Find out how government has helped people get on the housing ladder #BuildingBritain

    UK Prime Minister tweetpic
     
  4.  
    @Jo_Coburn Jo Coburn, BBC Daily Politics presenter

    tweets: Should we send MPs and peers to East Yorkshire? Join me after 12 to hear more on #bbcdp

     
  5.  
    11:19: Gordon Brown on oil fields Douglas Fraser Business/economy editor, Scotland

    Gordon Brown is starting his final month as an MP with a thundering speech on the economy. It's the only type of speech he's ever done.

    He's chosen to do so as Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy also sounds off on economic policy, and just before Nicola Sturgeon re-styles the Scottish government's economic strategy, with a strong flavour of equality running through its 'refreshed' priorities.

    The first minister has, incidentally, made her predecessor's Council of Economic Advisers a bit more equal - of 10 members, four are women, seven professors, five non-economists, five based outside Scotland and as many people of Italian parentage as there are Nobel laureates - two of each.

    More from Douglas Fraser, our business editor for Scotland, here.

     
  6.  
    @JamesTapsfield James Tapsfield, Press Association political reporter

    tweets: Mili says there's "no bigger priority" for Labour than building more homes

     
  7.  
    @JamesTapsfield James Tapsfield, Press Association political reporter

    tweets: Another pretty packed house for Miliband in Brighton...

    Ed Mliband meeting crowd
     
  8.  
    @YouGov YouGov, polling firm
  9.  
    10:51: 'More power, more flexibility' BBC News Channel
    Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds

    "It's young people who are most affected by this housing crisis," says Labour's shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds. She says her party would give local councils "more power, more flexibility to stop land banking - where developers sit on land - and to directly commission house building in their area". On the subject of Labour's 200,000 homes-a-year target, she adds: "We'd love to get there sooner than 2020 but we don't want to make promises we cant keep."

     
  10.  
    10:48: 'Barmy army cuts' BBC News Channel

    Conservative MP Col Bob Stewart says he agrees with fears raised by US Army Chief of Staff Gen Raymond Odierno on the impact of spending cuts on the UK's armed forces. Col Stewart says he thinks it is "barmy" to consider reducing defence spending when the UK faces the threats it does. He also alluded to "disturbing rumours" that the Army may see further cuts again soon.

    General Odierno told the Daily Telegraph further cuts could see British units operating within US ranks, rather than divisions working alongside each other. Col Stewart said the idea was "certainly workable" but would be mean "loss of influence" for the UK.

     
  11.  
    @fergalkeane47 Fergal Keane, BBC special correspondent

    tweets: Tonight on @BBCPanorama I'll be arguing that love is the biggest political idea of all

    Our correspondent has also written a piece about the politics of love. You can read it here.

     
  12.  
    10:38: Public-private North Sea deals

    Some more on Gordon Brown's speech in Glasgow on North Sea oil fields later. BBC Scotland writes that Mr Brown will back the idea of public-private ownership deals, saying they could be the solution for those fields that are under threat of being mothballed. More here.

     
  13.  
    10:35: Your thoughts

    What is the solution to England's housing problem? Do you think any of the parties have the answer? Tweet us your thoughts @bbcpolitics or email politics@bbc.co.uk and we'll include some on Politics Live.

     
  14.  
    10:33: Housing analysis Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Affordable housing - or the lack of it - is such a big issue for so many people, and there is huge pressure on the parties to find some credible plans to build more houses.

    David Cameron will say this afternoon that the Conservatives would build 200,000 starter homes by 2020. That will be paid for by waiving the fees which developers at the moment have to pay to local authorities and reducing the obligation to build social housing.

    There is a political issue here, though, that all three big parties have to face. It's easy for politicians to say at a national level, 'Yes, let's build more houses,' but in the local areas, when it comes to their own constituencies, MPs tend to be much more resistant to development.

     
  15.  
    10:21: Louis vs Ed: the real power struggle?
    Louis Tomlinson

    Who is the most powerful person in Doncaster? According to the Doncaster Free Press, it's not Labour leader Ed Miliband. The paper has published its "Power List" and concludes the local mayor, a council official and Louis Tomlinson from One Direction are more powerful in the South Yorkshire town than the man who could have the keys to 10 Downing Street come May. The Telegraph has more.

     
  16.  
    @SkyNewsBen Ben Sutcliffe, Sky News, news editor

    tweets: The PM about to learn bricklaying

    David Cameron visiting a building site in Essex
     
  17.  
    @the_tpa TaxPayers' Alliance

    tweets: No need to worry, guys, we've fixed it for you.

    tweet of altered government posted
     
  18.  
    10:10: 'No legal aid reversal'
    Sadiq Khan

    Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice minister, has been speaking about his party's plans for legal reform if they win the election. He says Labour intends to repeal restrictions on judicial review and make it easer to challenge government decisions. But he admits the party cannot reverse cuts to legal aid. More here.

     
  19.  
    @michaelsavage Michael Savage, Times chief political correspondent

    tweets: Where are properties that would be hit by the #mansiontax? Estate agents @knightfrank have done some work:

    Chart showing where properties would be hit with a mansion tax
     
  20.  
    09:59: 'Save Dave'

    Could David Cameron stay as Tory leader if the Conservatives fail to win a majority at the election? According to the Daily Mail, Conservatives are drawing up plans to protect Mr Cameron's position as long as Labour do not secure a decisive victory. George Osborne and Michael Gove are the figures the newspaper says will look to form a "protective ring" around Mr Cameron. Read the report here.

     
  21.  
    @faisalislam Faisal Islam, @SkyNews Political Editor

    tweets: So... Housing policy. A graveyard for both main parties in recent years, despite all manner of policy wheezes...

     
  22.  
    09:53: Housing reforms BBC News Channel
    Henry Gregg

    Henry Gregg, from the National Housing Federation, has been speaking about plans to build new starter homes. He said his body welcomes that the Conservatives are recognising "the scale of the housing crisis", but he was concerned money could be taken away from affordable rent budgets. He added: "What we need is more money for homes than are being built for renters, but also homes that are being built for first-time buyers."

     
  23.  
    @jameswhartonmp James Wharton, MP for Stockton South

    tweets: Quite a clever way to get MPs' attention pre budget from @droptheduty to send a whisky miniature in the post!

    Bottle of whisky promoting a cut in duty
     
  24.  
    09:36: 'Looking for a new saviour' The Daily Mail

    Today presenter John Humphrys has written for the Daily Mail on the influence smaller parties and voters in seaside towns are likely to have on the election. He writes: "From Clapton to Cleethorpes, the seaside towns of the east coast appear to be looking for a new saviour. And that saviour may well be clad in UKIP colours." More here.

     
  25.  
    @AndrewSparrow Andrew Sparrow, writer of the Guardian's Politics Live blog

    tweets: A seat projection round-up - All suggest Lab + others cd block Tory Queen's Speech, but not vice versa

     
  26.  
    09:27: Blunkett: 'I wish I'd been more diplomatic' The Daily Telegraph

    The Telegraph is interviewing a number of MPs who are standing down at the election. Today, former home secretary David Blunkett reveals how much of an impact his blindness had on his career, saying it had an effect on the way he interacted with colleagues . And he tells the website he wishes he had been more "diplomatic" - "I wasn't good with colleagues in cabinet," he says. More here.

     
  27.  
    09:19: 'Where is the master plan?'

    Is David Cameron's plan to build 200,000 starter homes in England before 2020 too modest? In its leader today, the Daily Mail asks if more needs to be done. The paper writes: "Where is the master plan to incentivise developers to build on the thousands of acres of derelict industrial land lying idle?" More here.

     
  28.  
    09:15: 100 constituencies in 100 days BBC Radio 4 Today

    BBC Radio 4's Today programme is visiting 100 constituencies in the run-up to 7 May. Today, reporter Sanchia Berg looks at the lack of grammar schools in Sevenoaks. You can listen to her package here.

     
  29.  
    09:08: Human rights reform

    What has happened to Chris Grayling's plans to reform human rights laws? Writing for Law Gazette, Joshua Rozenberg suggests the lack of movement on the promised Bill of Rights could spell the end of Mr Grayling's tenure as justice secretary. More here.

     
  30.  
    @LSEge2015 London School of Economics' 2015 general election coverage

    tweets: "That electoral registration rates have declined over the past year is disturbing" More here. #GE2015

    Graph showing decline in voter registration between 2013 and 2014
     
  31.  
    08:57: Register to vote campaign

    People aged 18 are being urged "use your age wisely" by taking part in the election on 7 May via a Facebook campaign. Michael Abbott, head of campaigns at the Electoral Commission, said: "We saw at the Scottish Independence Referendum that young people can be one of the most passionate and engaged groups in our democracy, but they need to know that they can only have a say if they're registered. Turning 18 is an important rite of passage for young people, and gaining the right to vote in a General Election year is a huge part of that." For anyone looking to register, you can do so here.

     
  32.  
    08:43: Terror deal Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    The government's former reviewer of terror legislation, Alex Carlile, has called for a cross-party deal over extra powers for the security services. Lord Carlile said the parties should agree to work together as they did to counter terrorism in Northern Ireland. He called for a consensus to be reached over new powers to monitor people's internet and email usage with a fresh Communications Data bill.

    Lord Carlile - a Liberal Democrat - also said it had been a mistake to replace control orders which had been done for "merely political reasons." Had they not been repealed, he said, "Jihadi John" would probably have been subject to a control order.

     
  33.  
    08:37: 'Cusp of revolution' The Daily Telegraph

    Politics Live readers will know there is plenty to keep us busy in the wider political world in the run-up to 7 May. But, writing for the Telegraph today, Alex Proud argues that the same is not true in the hallowed halls of Westminster itself. He writes that, beyond "the usual partisan babble" and media coverage, "you can hear a pin drop in Parliament. Tumbleweeds blow down Whitehall." Mr Proud reckons that is out of touch with the country at large, where "we appear to be on the cusp of a genuine revolution". More here.

     
  34.  
    08:32: 'Broken, confused, unfair' The Times

    What should happen to the UK's immigration system? Today's The Times leader says the system is "broken, confused, unfair and so politically fraught that coalition ministers can scarcely talk about it, let alone reform it". You can read the paper's take here (subscription required).

     
  35.  
    08:26: 'Braced for defeat' The Mirror

    "David Cameron would be hammering on the doors of TV studios to demand election debates if he was half as good as he pretends he is and Ed Miliband was anywhere near as poor as the Conservatives smear him," says Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror. In a scathing comment piece, he confidently predicts: "Behind the hype, the Tories are braced for defeat. A Conservative leader who couldn't win outright in 2010 won't in 2015."

     
  36.  
    08:23: If I were prime minister... The Independent

    Natasha Devon is today's "If I were prime minister" columnist in the Independent. The author and TV pundit criticises mainstream political leaders for "constantly banging against the glass of public opinion, watering down their policies, pleasing no one (apart from the super-rich)". Were she in charge of the country, Ms Devon writes, she would be like Margaret Thatcher: "What I mean is, I'd stand for something." More here.

     
  37.  
    @steve_hawkes Steve Hawkes, deputy political editor of the Sun

    tweets: Times' @RSylvesterTimes says Theresa May sole supporter of PM's immigration goal in Cabinet. Remember, Boris a big fan too, outside of it

     
  38.  
    08:10: SNP on Brown plans

    On Gordon Brown's North Sea plans, SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie says: "As a chancellor who treated Scotland's oil as a cash cow, imposed the supplementary tax on the North Sea industry in the first place, then doubled it - and left office having failed to set up an oil fund to deliver any long-term benefit from our own natural resources - Gordon Brown is responsible for undermining investment in this vital industry." And he adds: "Whatever good ideas Mr Brown has now, by definition he didn't implement them in the 13 years when he was chancellor and prime minister."

     
  39.  
    @georgeeaton George Eaton, political editor at the New Statesman

    tweets: Gisela Stuart floats idea of a Labour-Tory grand coalition. Not going to happen; would be a gift to Ukip, SNP and the Greens.

     
  40.  
    08:08: Gordon Brown on oil fund
    Gordon Brown

    Former prime minister Gordon Brown will be giving one of his last speeches before stepping down as an MP later. Mr Brown, who played a key role for the "No" campaign in the final days before Scotland's independence referendum, will be talking today about the creation of a North Sea reserve fund to help the oil industry. Mr Brown thinks the fund would help maintain and upgrade infrastructure and could provide last-resort debt finance for companies who want to keep fields open. He believes the UK government could even take over fields in partnership with some firms in order to keep them open and viable in future.

     
  41.  
    08:07: Tidal tale

    We mentioned the government's enthusiasm for tidal power earlier. If, like us, it's been a while since you did A-level geography, here's how it works.

     
  42.  
    08:01: 'Lovely' Clegg The Huffington Post
    Tim Farron

    The Huffington Post has been speaking to Liberal Democrat President Tim Farron - widely seen as a possible successor to Nick Clegg as party leader. He says a lot of the speculation surrounding his future is "nonsense" which should be taken "with a pinch of salt". Mr Farron also tells the site Mr Clegg has been "absolutely lovely" the rumours. More here.

     
  43.  
    @tnewtondunn Tom Newton Dunn, political editor of the Sun

    tweets: "We must slash our armed forces, yet PM has locked us into £5bn of perks for pensioners who've never had it so good" More here.

     
  44.  
    07:54: Marmite Farage

    Describing David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg as "vanilla", Nigel Farage suggested he might be seen as "marmite" - "some people love it", he adds.

     
  45.  
    07:46: Farage on immigration
    Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage also discussed the impact of immigration on GMB, saying it could have a positive effect. He added: "If you control immigration sensibly and do it properly it can be a benefit to to the country, and it can enrich the culture too, no argument about that."

     
  46.  
    07:42: Farage on family

    During his Good Morning Britain interview, Nigel Farage spoke about the impact of his political commitments on his family life. He told the programme: "To be honest with you, I think my whole family would rather I had never gone into politics."

     
  47.  
    @EmmaReynoldsMP Emma Reynolds, shadow housing minister

    tweets: Cameron & Shapps have no idea how to deliver new starter homes at a discount. A record number of young people in 20s/30s live wt parents.

     
  48.  
    @patrickwintour Patrick Wintour, political editor of the guardian

    tweets: PSA survey of 500 experts produces mean Labour 282.3 seats, Con 278.4, LD 24.8, Ukip 6.6, SNP 28.7, Plaid 3.3, Green 1.9, Others 13.4

     
  49.  
    07:33: 'Not a good PM'

    Nigel Farage was asked by Good Morning Britain if he'd like to be prime minister. His reply? "I don't think that's my role in life, I don't think I'd be very good at it either."

     
  50.  
    @robindbrant Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: @Nigel_Farage struggling to answer when @GMB ask him to describe a benefit of other races & cultures in the UK

     
  51.  
    07:25: One in, one out?
    House of Lords

    Should new peers only be admitted to the House of Lords when one stands down? The idea has been floated this morning by Baroness D'Souza, the Lords speaker. Writing for The Telegraph, she says the chamber has an "image problem", but does "valuable work in holding governments to account". She writes of a potential one "'one in, one out" policy: "This would not reduce the size of the House in the immediate future, but it would at least limit its expansion."

     
  52.  
    07:21: Tidal lagoons

    Ed Davey, the energy secretary, has been speaking to the BBC about plans to generate electricity from the world's first series of tidal lagoons in the UK. The lagoons will capture incoming and outgoing tides behind giant sea walls, and use the weight of the water to power turbines. A £1bn Swansea scheme, said to be able to produce energy for 155,000 homes, is already in the planning system. Mr Davey told BBC News: "I can't make a decision on this yet because discussions are ongoing. But I'm very excited by the prospect of tidal power. We have got some of the biggest tidal ranges in the world and it would be really useful if we could harness some of that clean energy."

     
  53.  
    07:19: Banking tax explainer
    The city

    Here's a bit more on the Liberal Democrat plan to tax banks to pay off more of the deficit and how it would work. Corporation Tax is applied on a company's annual profits and is set to fall 1% to a rate of 20% from next month. But the Lib Dems say they wish to impose an additional corporation tax rate of 8% on banks only from April 2016. The party says this measure would raise £1bn a year and would go towards closing the structural budget deficit of £30bn. It said because failings in the banking system had caused the financial crisis, it was fair that banks helped repair the economy. Banks already pay a bank levy which has yielded £8bn over the past four years. The Conservatives may resist the proposals though. They've said they would cut the deficit solely by reducing spending. Labour says it would tax bank bonuses and re-impose the 50p top rate of income tax.

     
  54.  
    07:14: 'Drop migration target'
    Ken Clarke

    Elsewhere this morning, Ken Clarke has said David Cameron's net migration target should be dropped. Mr Clarke, a former home secretary, said it would be impossible to reach without "severely" damaging the UK economy. He told the Times: "I am afraid that the net migration target has proved to be a mistake. It has been defended to me as almost returning to the figures to those when I was home secretary. This is true, but we weren't in a globalised economy then to the extent we are now. We will have to drop the target. It would not be possible to achieve it without damaging our economy quite severely."

     
  55.  
    07:11: 'Beauty contest of ideas' Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    Despite us thinking we're a nation of homeowners, the proportion of people who actually own their own home, and live in it, has been falling in England for more than 10 years now as house prices have rocketed up. Labour have actually outbid the Conservatives by far on the number of homes they say that they would build - they are promising 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament and they say they have a plan to do it. You won't hear anyone today say the housing market is just fine, there isn't a problem here. You'll see a beauty contest of ideas, if you like, to sort it out." More on the housing announcement.: "

     
  56.  
    @campbellclaret Alastair Campbell, former Labour spin doctor

    tweets: Hope he never gets chance but would be interesting to see if @David_Cameron meets his 200k housing pledge as quickly as NHS waiting pledge

     
  57.  
    06:52: Defence spending
    Raymond Odierno

    Over the weekend, former defence secretary Liam Fox warned of a potential Tory rebellion if defence spending targets are not met. And now the head of the US Army - Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno - has said he is "very concerned" about the impact of cuts in Britain. He said the falling proportion of the UK's national wealth being spent on the military could mean British troops end up operating within US ranks, rather than divisions working alongside each other. More here.

     
  58.  
    06:46: Newspaper review
    Metro and Telegraph fronts

    Just sitting down for your first coffee of the day? Here's our overnight newspaper review, featuring today's announcement on homes from the Conservatives and a warning on UK defending spending.

     
  59.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Housing on @BBCBreakfast - part of the reason you can't afford a home: building not yet back at pre crash levels

    Graph from Twitter
     
  60.  
    06:28: Bank tax
    Danny Alexander

    The Liberal Democrats have announced plans to tax Britain's banks with an additional £1bn levy. Danny Alexander, the coalition's chief secretary to the Treasury, wants to effectively strip banks of the benefit of recent corporation tax cuts. The money, the Lib Dems say, would be used to pay off the deficit. More here.

     
  61.  
    06:25: Housing pledge
    Generic homes

    Later, David Cameron will promise to make 200,000 homes available to first-time buyers in England by 2020 if the Conservatives win the election. Plans for 100,000 cut-price homes for people under 40 have already been announced by the coalition. Labour has pledged to build 200,000 new homes by 2020, while the Lib Dems have set out plans to build 300,000. More here.

     
  62.  
    06:20: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to a fresh Monday's political coverage. Nick Eardley and Victoria King will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Sunday unfolded.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • KnucklesGood or bad?

    For many it can be very satisfying to 'crack' the bones in your hand, but is it bad for you?

Programmes

  • BatteriesClick Watch

    More power to your phone - the lithium-ion batteries that could last twice as long

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.