County and West Midlands MEP Phil Bennion has welcomed the huge majority backing the Strengthening the UK Economy motion at the Lib Dem party conference in Glasgow this morning.

 
Phil Bennion Jackie Minor fringe CPhil Bennion Jackie Minor fringe CSpeaking immediately after the vote and a passionate debate in which Nick Clegg summed up, the West Midlands MEP and Lib Dem Employment Spokesman said:
 
"Conference has decisively rejected any suggestion that we should mount any kind of U turn from the coalition's strategy for getting the deficit under control. 
 
"Thanks to taking some hard choices, the Lib Dems in coalition have brought us to a point where economic recovery is substantial and unemployment is coming down.
 
"The Conservatives are now threatening British jobs and the recovery because of the uncertainty over whether we will stay in Europe's single market. This is damaging our ability to attract inward investment.
 
"Labour crashed the economy in both their last periods in government. As they have rejected every hard choice the coalition has made, they now cannot expect to be taken seriously. 
 
"If Labour policies were introduced, interest rates would go up, we would then see more bankruptcies, more borrowing that would have to be paid off and jobs being destroyed across the economy."
 
The flexible labour market is crucial to the UK's economic success, Phil added.
 
"Unemployment has now started to drop again. This is a result of coalition economic policy and also our flexible labour market. One reason why unemployment in the UK did not rise as much as expected after 2009 is because real wages and salaries overall dropped as much as they did. 
 
"The lack of flexibility in France and Spain is one reason why their unemployment is so much worse than ours.
 
"Mr Barroso in his recent speech said European countries needed to reform their labour markets to balance security with flexibility. He is right. In many ways Britain is benefiting from having a much greater degree of flexibility than other EU countries, though we also have an effective welfare safety net.
 
"We are now seeing the benefits of keeping relatively more people in work, as UK companies are well-placed to respond to rising demand. In time this will lead to higher living standards for workers who have had to grit their teeth and hunker down during the recession.
 
"Jobs are central to the economic policy conference backed today. We have also helped companies take on the long term unemployed and given a huge boost to the number of apprenticeships in Britain.
 
"We are also fighting for jobs in the EU, where Liberals have been promoting investment in infrastructure research and the digital economy. By cutting waste and focusing the EU budget on the key drivers of economic growth, the EU can play a vital part in producing a globally competitive economy and creating the green and sustainable jobs we all need."
 
ENDS
 
Caption: Before the economy debate, Phil Bennion addressed a conference fringe meeting organised by the European Commission on how the EU can protect consumers. Phil was on the panel with Jackie Minor, head of EC representation to the UK (left).