Leading article: At last, a politician fluent in European


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The Independent Online

One way and another it has been a good week for Nick Clegg, at least compared with some of the dismal times he and the Liberal Democrats have endured in coalition.

It began with a clutch of victories on the Beecroft report, where his and Vince Cable's opposition to dismantling employment legislation forced a climbdown from David Cameron. It continued with an unintended accolade from Adrian Beecroft himself, who accused Mr Clegg of essentially stamping his foot in Cabinet, and not just on this issue, until he won.

But the Deputy Prime Minister had one of his finest hours when he went to Berlin to speak on Europe and then presented the same case – for the benefits of the European Union and why Britain had to play a full part in it – in an extended BBC interview. Tony Blair could speak eloquently on Europe when and where he wanted to – which was usually at media-unfriendly times on the other side of the Channel. Nick Clegg has the knowledge, the experience and the vocabulary to speak not just with conviction and sympathy, but in a way that can be readily understood. This makes him almost unique: a senior British politician capable of making a compelling case for Europe. As Tory Eurosceptics sense the wind in their sails, he should do this more often. Nick Clegg may just have found his role.