UK Politics

Election 2015: EU exit economic self harm, says Clegg

Nick Clegg Image copyright Getty Images

Leaving the European Union would be an act of economic "self harm" and could risk the UK recovery, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said.

Many Tories, and UKIP, appeared to want Britain to cut itself off from the "world's largest marketplace", he said.

Mr Clegg said the Lib Dems were "unambiguous" in their support for the EU but would guarantee a referendum over any major transfer of powers.

As MPs gear up for the election, he also questioned Labour's economic plan.

Mr Clegg was speaking in Abingdon, Oxfordshire - a key marginal seat the Lib Dems are hoping to win back from their coalition partners - where he arrived in the party's bright yellow "battle bus".

"Of course we have different views to the Conservatives," he said.

He said a large section of the Tory party were "straining at the leash" to leave the EU and that would be a "terrible thing for the British economy".

But he said "in the same way" he strongly disagreed with Labour's "failure to spell out when they would actually balance the books.

"I am dismayed the Labour Party want to borrow £70bn more than we think is needed," he added.

Mr Clegg's comments comes after Lib Dem cabinet minister Ed Davey told the Observer Prime Minister David Cameron's commitment to an in/out referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017 would make a second coalition with the Tories "incredibly difficult".

Labour has said it would not offer such a referendum unless there was a significant shift of power away from London to Brussels.

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