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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Clegg Closer to the Summit

 

Looks like Nick Clegg is going to be closer to today's EU summit than he was at the last one.

In an interview for The House magazine (published next week*), the Deputy Prime Minister has revealed that he will have a member of his staff accompany the No.10 team to Brussels on Monday.

"One of my team is joining the Prime Minister's team, which is very sensible," the DPM told me.

"But I think for David's sake, I hope he's not going to have to stay up all night."  Clegg joked: "This doesn't sound like one which is going to be an all-nighter!"

I understand the member of staff is not a special adviser and is instead a civil servant. They will not act as spy or enforcer, but will simply aim to better coordinate the common position of the PM and DPM.

Although the pair of them still get on cordially, the Coalition took a real knock in the aftermath of the famous Cameron 'veto' at December's EU summit.

The PM emerged in the early hours to declare that he had refused to sign up to an amended EU treaty on closer fiscal union. His 'red line' safeguards for the City and the single market had not been met and so he walked away.  Eurosceps were delighted, but Lib Dems were dismayed that they'd been outflanked and outfoxed.

Clegg, who was at home in Sheffield, was phoned after 4am that night and told of the fact that the UK had been left isolated 26-1.

There has been a lot of claim and counter-claim since. Cameron has insisted that the game plan had been gone over in detail beforehand and no one (including the Libs) should have been surprised by the outcome. But Clegg said days later that he was 'bitterly disappointed' by the outcome of the summit. He said earlier this month that "no one planned for an outcome which left Britain in a position of one."

This Monday's informal European Council has growth and competitiveness on its agenda and on both Cam and Clegg are utterly united.

The summit will also discuss those plans by the other 26 states for their own 'inter-governmental treaty' on tighter fiscal union. But Cam won't have to threaten a veto and the UK will be largely a bystander as the others try to hammer out some of the detail of their fiscal compact.

Whatever happens, at least this time the DPM will be effectively 'in the room'.

 

*FOOTNOTE: The DPM was on fine form in the interview. Read next week about his thoughts on the Coalition, the Lords and more.

 

To subscribe to The House, please email sarah.kinnane@dods.co.uk

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