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Thursday 24th May 2012 | 08:49
David Cameron has come back from Brussels to Blighty just as Nick Clegg heads in the other direction - literally and metaphorically.
Although he'll claim they're singing from the same hymn sheet about 'growth+austerity', the DPM is striking a markedly different tone on Europe and the euro.
Clegg's speech in Berlin [see extracts here] sounds very different from the 'make up or break up' rhetoric of the PM. In fact, Clegg is so worried about a Greek exit and the resulting break up of the euro that he invokes the spectre of extremism stalking the continent once again.
But the most striking line-to-take today is Clegg's remark that 'no rational person' would want a euro collapse. It sounds awfully like he's saying Eurosceps - and even the PM's more colourful language - are 'bonkers'.
Vince Cable (who is accompanying him to Berlin*) will be pleased to see that word appear again. The trope that Eurosceps are 'swivel-eyed loonies' is certainly alive and well among many Lib Dems.
Here's the relevant Clegg speech extracts:
"Let me challenge the fashionable assumption being whispered behind cupped hands – that for some countries, leaving the Euro wouldn’t be that bad. That actually, a Greek exit now would be in everyone’s best interests.
“My own view is that that wildly underestimates the unpredictable, irrevocable damage that could be done to a monetary union when it is shown not to be permanent. No rational person interested in the wealth and wellbeing of Europe’s citizens could advocate taking such a risk: not with Greece’s future, or our own.”
Just to prove that this is no accident, Danny Alexander was on the Daybreak sofa this morning saying exactly the same thing:
"No rational person would think it’d be right that Greece should come out of the euro; that’d have an effect all round the world.”
Eurosceptics will laugh off the suggestion that they are the ones who are insane. They think the lunatics took over the euro asylum a long time ago.
*FOOTNOTE: Yesterday Cable and Clegg were conveniently absent from PMQs. Clegg had a long standing charity lunch with Bill Clinton, while Vince was in far-flung Shoreditch attending the launch of a Growth Accelerator (sounds very Star Trek but was about small business).
Today, thanks to their Berlin trip, the Business Secretary will actually miss his own BIS Questions. But in case anyone thinks he’s deliberately snubbing the Commons, I can reveal he arranged the German trip before he got the dates for the Oral Questions. It’s also the first time he’s missed Questions since May 2010.
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