Nick Clegg rejects call to quit if Lib Dems wiped out in European elections
Deputy prime minister says he will stay on and may be willing to sign up to David Cameron’s pledge on EU referendum.
Nick Clegg has acknowledged that the Liberal Democrats may be left with “zilch” MEPs after next week’s elections, and hinted that his party may be willing to sign up to David Cameron’s pledge to hold an EU referendum in a future coalition.
The deputy prime minister said he hoped the Lib Dems would not lose all their European representatives but that he would not resign if this happened.
The former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik had suggested he should step down if voters kicked out more than five of the party’s MEPs at theEuropean elections. But Clegg dismissed this idea on his LBC radio show, saying he did not need Opik’s advice.
“I do intend to carry on as leader, but I’m actually more confident than many of my critics and commentators think I should be. I’m actually more optimistic about our prospects at the next general election than many people suggest,” he said.
Earlier, Clegg refused to rule out agreeing to Cameron’s demands on an EU referendum in any future coalition. The Conservative leader has made it clear he would not serve as a prime minister if he could not keep his pledge of a poll by the end of 2017.
Clegg told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he was more prepared to “die in a ditch” for fair taxes than hold out against the prospect of a referendum.