18/10/2013 13:39 BST | Updated 18/10/2013 13:53 BST

Nick Clegg Says 'Tea Party Tories' Could Drive UK To 'Economic Suicide'

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg delivers a speech to the think tank 'Centre Forum' at The Commonwealth Club on December 17, 2012 in London, England. In his speech, entitled 'Governing Britain from the centre ground', Mr Clegg reasserted his party's differences from Labour and the Conservatives. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Nick Clegg has warned that the UK could be driven by Tory "ideological extremists" into a government shutdown like that experienced in America this week as Republicans and Democrats fought over the US budget.

"We see what happens when ideological extremism goes unchecked," the Liberal Democrat leader told the Financial Times. "It would be very complacent to assume that can't happen here".

Clegg compared Tory eurosceptics to the Republican Tea Party wing, arguing that they both shared "a rigid, ideological self-belief that runs roughshod over the interests of the country”. Bill Cash, Peter Bone and Douglas Carswell are among the most prominent Tory eurosceptics.

The Deputy Prime Minister also warned that Tory eurosceptics' aim to take Britain out of the European Union would be an act of "economic suicide".


The LibDem leader's attack on the Tories comes a week after he dismissed David Cameron's promise to hold a referendum on the UK's EU membership in 2017 as a "policy fix" to appease Tory eurosceptics.

He said: "My great fear, in all of this, is that pro-Europeans are being too slow to wake up to the danger ahead.

"The day I dread - the day I hope never comes - is a time when it is all too late: Britain has stumbled out of the EU, and we look back to these days and say we should have done more."

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Businesses like Nissan recently called for the UK to stay within the EU. Toshiyuki Shiga, Nissan's chief operating officer, said: “From the foreign investor’s point of view, I hope that the UK will remain an EU member.”

In response to Nissan's comments. Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary, said: “These comments from Nissan make it clear that millions of pounds of inward investment and thousands of jobs could be put at risk by the Tory-led Government’s approach and attitude to the EU."