Alexander Hits out at Eurosceptics; LIBDEM MINISTER RISKS COALITION RIFT BY 'ENEMIES OF GROWTH' CLAIM
Byline: JAMES TAPSFIELD
LIBERAl Democrat Cabinet minister Danny Alexander risked inflaming tensions with the Tories over Europe yesterday by branding Eurosceptics "enemies of growth". Despite chaos in the single currency zone threatening to derail the world economy, Mr Alexander insisted sharing sovereignty made Britain stronger.
The intervention came as the Lib Dem leadership sought to soothe anxious activists at the party's conference in Birmingham by stressing differences with their coalition partners.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg used an interview yesterday morning to make clear he would not bow to Conservative demands for the 50p tax rate to be scrapped unless there were major concessions in return.
Mr Clegg claimed his ministers were imposing their will on their "political enemies" in government, while there have been a series of risque jokes from the platform at the expense of senior Tories.
In his speech to members yesterday, Mr Alexander insisted coalition ministers were "united in pursuing a policy of pragmatic, practical engagement in the EU".
But he rounded on those who have been demanding a loosening of ties with the struggling union - including many Tory right-wingers.
"Sadly, Eurosceptics on left and right fail to understand Winston Churchill's central insight that sharing sovereignty strengthens influence and isolation weakens us," Mr Alexander said.
"Scottish Nationalists make the same mistake. We will never let the anti-Europeans or nationalists frustrate our national interest. They are enemies of growth."
Deepening, strengthening and deregulating the single market was a central aim of Britain's European policy because it would bring jobs and growth, he added. …