Nick Clegg: Brexit is proving the Tories are no longer the party of business
If you pay £16,500 you can have an advert on the canvas bags or lanyards issued to delegates. If you want an exhibition stand in a plum spot you’ll pay anything up to £27,500. And, according to press reports, you’ll need to cough up more than £3,000 to rub shoulders very briefly over lunch with national luminaries such as Liam Fox, Chris Grayling or even Theresa May herself.
Welcome to the great love-in between British business and theConservative Party, which will be on ample — and expensive — display this week at the party conference in Birmingham.
I do not disapprove of businesses paying to participate in party conference events — indeed, I encouraged it when I was leader of my own party. Nor do I begrudge the Conservatives for raising their price tag to get as much into their party coffers as possible. As long as we’re stuck with our opaque party funding rules — the reform of which has been repeatedly blocked by both the Conservative and Labour parties — it’s just the way of the world.
No, my big query about the huge financial donations provided by British businesses to the Conservative Party is not based on sanctimony but simply this: why are businesses supporting a party which now poses such a serious threat to the long-term health of the British economy?
11 reasons Jeremy Corbyn is wrong on the single market
Two weeks ago, Jeremy Corbyn suggested Britain should give up its membership of the EU’s Single Market - a position he shares with only the most hardcore Brexiteers.
The single market means it as easy to trade between London and Berlin as it is between Edinburgh and London. Within the Single Market, goods, people, services and capital can move freely, meaning there’s no lengthy customs checks, borders to cross and goods can move freely and cheaply.
Giving up our membership of the Single Market would be catastrophic for our economy and put millions of people’s livelihoods at risk. Even if we agreed a deal to allow access to the Single Market it would mean less investment, fewer jobs and no say over the laws that government our access, compared to remaining fully-fledged members.
Nick Clegg: Tories are 'up Brexit creek'
Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister and now the Liberal Democrats’ spokesman on Europe, said this morning the Conservatives were facing “paralysis” as the party tried to reconcile different priorities.
“That is why they find themselves up this Brexit creek – never mind they don’t have a paddle; they don’t have a canoe, they don’t have a map, they have absolutely no clue whatsoever,” he told the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton this morning.