UK & World News

  • 11 May 2014, 19:18

Clegg 'Frustrated' He Cannot Join In At PMQs

Nick Clegg has revealed he sometimes gets frustrated at being unable to join in the weekly Commons clashes between David Cameron and Ed Miliband.

As a member of the Coalition Government, the LiberalDemocrat leader no longer gets to take part in Prime Minister's Questions.

But in a wide-ranging interview on Sky's Murnaghan progamme, the Deputy Prime Minister said he would sometimes "love to get up" from his place on the front bench and join in, although he joked three politicians yelling at each other would probably "tip people over the edge".

Mr Clegg also defended his party's pro-Europe stance ahead of elections later this month, arguing membership was right for the country.

He accused UKIP and many Conservatives of "hankering after a past that probably didn't exist" and expressed dismay at the Labour leader's "trappist vow of silence" on such a major issue.

On having to sit out at PMQs, Mr Clegg told Sky News: "It's sometimes a little bit frustrating that I have to sit there while the two of them knock the seven bells out of each other. I'd love to get up and probably join in sometimes.

"(But) I think two politicians yelling at each other is more than enough for the British public.

"To have three yelling at each other would probably tip people over the edge. I'm not going to do that."

Mr Clegg also insisted he was not a "starry-eyed pro-European fanatic" but said he felt EU membership was right for Britain.

He said UKIP and many Conservatives were harking back to the past.

"Their view is all about turning the clock back," he said. "It's all about hankering after a past that probably didn't exist.

"I think we should be a lot more positive and upbeat about the way things are for Britain."

He added: "One of the biggest myths of all is that if you're in favour of membership of the European Union, you're not in favour of change. To win that argument you've got to be in it."

Mr Clegg said freedom of movement had been a "huge benefit" to Britons wanting to leave the UK for other European countries but said he was a "leading proponent" of tightening up rules on benefits for migrants.

"I have a lot of concerns about making sure the rules are fair so people can't just turn up here from elsewhere in Europe and access benefits with no questions asked, no strings attached, from day one," he said.

"Yes, freedom to move, to look for work and to make a contribution but not freedom to claim."

He added: "If David Cameron and Ed Miliband choose to sit on their hands and not make the case, at least I'm going to.

"I'm particularly dismayed at how on earth Ed Miliband, who is supposed to lead a party which believes in progressive internationalist values, has entered into this trappist vow of silence on one of the big issues of our day."

Mr Clegg also restated his opposition to the Conservative plan to automatically jail anyone caught in possession of a knife for a second time.

He said the move designed to "grab newspaper headlines" was self-defeating.

"If you want to be smart about crime, not just talk tough about crime, you've got to stop the revolving door of crime," he added.

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