I awoke to the Today programme last week with a message to me from Nick Clegg. He told me and the other Eurosceptic Conservative MPs to stop playing games and to concentrate on the things needed to create more jobs and tackle the cost of living. This was a foolish message for him to send me.
We have not been playing games We have been trying to secure a new relationship with the EU for our country, a new relationship that would help us create more jobs, curb rises in the cost of living and make us more prosperous. It is his party which has prevented us from getting on with this immediately. Lib Dems support EU measures to force high and rising energy prices on us, one of the main causes of the difficulties with the cost of living. Many of the EU regulations which dominate business life add to costs and make it more difficult for small businesses to expand. We need them to be freer so they can create more jobs. It is EU regulations closing some of our power stations, forcing more windfarms upon us, banning overtime and making it very expensive for a business to recruit new labour.
Before the last election the Lib Dems said we needed an In/Out referendum on our whole relationship with the EU, not just a referendum on the latest Treaty then going through, the Lisbon treaty. Now we Conservatives are offering such a referendum, Mr Clegg says it is wrong and will not support us or vote for it. I find that flip flop unacceptable.
I have been calling for the Coalition government to rule out arming the rebels or intervening militarily in Syria. The opposition forces in Syria are not all peace loving democrats capable of forming an entirely different style of government to the thug regime they currently suffer from. It is by no means clear how we would send arms in successfully, how we could distinguish the well intentioned democrats from the rest and how that could lead to a new and good stable government.
I have also been calling for early exit of our troops from Afghanistan. Our armed forces personnel have worked hard and bravely in the Middle East in recent years. All too many lives have been lost. The Afghans have received considerable training from our service personnel. It is surely time for them to take on the responsibility of enforcing the law in their own country. We should not be willing to lose more lives there. Nor should we carry on spending so much on these Middle Eastern military activities.