BURNLEY Liberal Democrat MP Gordon Birtwistle last night warned his party boss Nick Clegg to perform a U-turn on Europe, or put his leadership future in doubt.
After the Lib Dems’ disast-rous performance in the Eur-opean election, Mr Birtwistle said Mr Clegg must listen to the people and support a ref-erendum in 2017 on the issue of Brussels laws affecting the UK.
The Burnley MP demanded his leader sack his advisers and back Prime Minister David Cameron on a ren-egotiation of Britain’s memb-ership of the European Union followed by a UK-wide vote on the new terms.
Mr Birtwistle added: “If he fails to do this, his leadership will become an issue.”
His warning came as Mr Clegg rejected a call to stand down after the party’s worst European election result for 25 years.
Southport MP John Pugh said Business Secretary Vince Cable should replace him after the party lost all but one of its 12 MEPs in the face of a UK Independence Party surge to victory nationally.
The Lib Dems slipped to fifth in the European polls, beh- ind the Green Party, as they lost seats in every region, apart from the south east of England.
Mr Birtwistle said: “I am not calling for Mr Clegg to go now. I am calling on him to sack the advisers who told him not to back the Prime Min-ister’s policy of a renegot-iation of the UK’s terms of membership of the EU foll-owed by a referendum in 2017.
“That is what the people of Burnley and Britain want. Mr Clegg needs to change his policy on this. If he does not do this, he needs to explain why.
“His leadership is not something to discuss now, but if he fails to do this, it will become an issue in the future.
“In the council elections in my ward in Burnley I won 37per cent of the vote. In the European election, the Lib-eral Democrat vote dropped to 12.5per cent.
“That is the message people in the Westminster bubble need to listen to.
“I spend more time in Bur-nley than I do in Westm- inster.
“I listen to real people with real views. It’s time for Mr Clegg to do the same.”