Support for Europe has always been a cornerstone of what our party stands for. Recent days have been tough for pro-Europeans in our country, but I am clear that it is in Britain’s national interest to remain at the heart of Europe.
As I have made clear since Friday, I am bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last weeks summit, which ended with the UK in a minority of one. There is now a real danger that over time the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the EU and as a consequence, our influence in the world will shrink. That is not good for jobs and growth; and will do nothing for struggling families across the country.
There is no doubt that we were in a difficult position because of the refusal to compromise from some member states and the eurosceptics in the Conservative Party. It was clear that some combination of guarantees on the operation of the single market, including in financial services, was necessary if we were going to ensure the safe passage of the package through Parliament. I regret the negotiations failed to arrive at a compromise, as I had hoped.
It is important that we now look to the future. That's why I, as a Liberal Democrat in this Coalition Government will do everything I can to make sure that this setback does not become a permanent divide. I am determined that we redouble our leadership on things like the single market, the environment, foreign policy, and defence - all the things that we need to do at a European level.
All my political life I have believed that Britain is stronger, better, greater when we lead and when we stand tall in Europe. Now, more than ever, we need a strong Liberal Democrat voice inside government making this case.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister