UK ‘should stay in the EU shaped by Thatcher’

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Nick Clegg will point to the legacy of Margaret Thatcher as he argues Britain should stay in the European Union today.

The Liberal Democrat leader will describe the EU as “the most successful example of international cooperation in modern history”.

He will say far from imposing foreign values on the UK, the current EU has “British fingerprints all over it”.

The Deputy Prime Minister will say: “Just look at the two greatest achievements of the EU – the Single Market and European Enlargement – each of which has brought stability and prosperity to millions of people and each of which has transformed the world in which Britain is able to operate.

“The EU is now the world’s largest borderless marketplace, home to 500 million consumers. Margaret Thatcher and Lord Cockfield launched it, and it now supports millions of British jobs.”

But in his speech, which comes just two days before voters cast their ballot in the European elections, the Deputy Prime Minister will declare the Liberal Demcrats are not “starry-eyed” about Brussels.

Giving the annual lecture at Oxford University’s European Studies Centre, he will claim that the Liberal Democrats are the only party that can deliver EU reform because Labour and the Conservatives are divided on the issue.

Describing the debate over Britain’s EU future as “one of the heart. not just the head” he will say: “The isolationists want to make this a debate about identity – well I relish that debate. Because there is nothing more British than standing tall in our own backyard, working with our neighbours to pursue our values and showing what tremendous advances are possible when nations work together.”