Clegg called for an end to the ‘old-fashioned’ idea of Europe as a zero-sum game in which Britain demands its ‘pound of flesh’.
Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chairman Peter Bingle said: ‘Nick Clegg is paying a clever game.’
‘For the first time since the formation of the coalition he is in a stronger position than the Prime Minister. He has decided to use this window to talk about the issue on which he feels most confident - Europe.
‘As the Prime Minister and his young advisers desperately try to create distance from Andy Coulson and hacking, Nick Clegg has finally started to look the part as Deputy PM.’
But Weber Shandwick public affairs and corporate comms chairman Jonathan McLeod criticised Clegg for his move, suggesting the comments will hit the British economy.
‘Cute positioning over a European currency crisis isn't smart,’ said McLeod. ‘This is all about confidence. The coalition's greatest achievement is maintaining confidence in the British economic brand, keeping our national borrowing costs low. Unpicking that by creating distance on a key issue like this between him and Cameron is not a valuable contribution to the debate.’
However, independent public affairs consultant Lionel Zetter said that both Clegg and Cameron are right.
Zetter added: ‘Either solution will work, but there is no sign that Europe is anywhere near ready to make a conscious decision about what sort of economy and what sort of a society it wants to be in 20 years' time.’