Clegg's plan to stop Brexit

Book review: How to Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again)Former Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg outlines his plan to stop Brexit in its tracks.


Nick Clegg: take Nigel Farage as your model
(Image credit: 2017 Getty Images)

How to Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again)

Published by The Bodley Head, £8.99

Buy at Amazon

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The last few years have not been good for Nick Clegg. After overseeing the decimation of his party, the Liberal Democrats, at the 2015 election, the former deputy prime minister lost his seat last June. Unbowed, Clegg has turned his attention to Britain's relationship with Europe. His book is both an essay on why he believes it is in our interest to stay in the European Union (EU), and a blueprint detailing how those who feel the same way can work to oppose withdrawal.

Clegg argues that the referendum campaign was conducted under false pretences, with the Leave side making claims that they had no intention of honouring (such as the promise emblazoned on a bus of providing £350m a week for the NHS). That means the public are entitled to change their mind. That's a familiar argument.

A more unusual one is his suggestion that, with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron both pushing for further EU integration, we are more likely to see a multi-tier Europe evolve, one that gives members more flexibility over what model to adopt. In short, if we stayed, we could indeed have our cake and eat it.

Perhaps the most eye-catching point is where Clegg advises opponents of Brexit to ignore the Lib Dems and join one of the two main parties, with the aim of pushing them in a more pro-EU direction. With Labour, this would mean forcing the party to oppose the government more vigorously; in the case of the Tories it would be to counter the efforts of those pushing for a hard Brexit. Pro-Europeans should look to none other than Nigel Farage as a role model of a man who persisted in fighting for a cause he was told was hopeless, says Clegg.

Clegg makes his argument well, but he has no suggestions about how to solve the economic and social problems that created Brexit. Moreover his premise is flawed even the arguably poor handling of the Brexit talks doesn't justify overturning the results of a referendum in which nearly 75% of the population voted. It would be better to push for the EEA option (membership of the single market without membership of the EU, which Clegg dismisses). This would honour the referendum while holding out the chance of an eventual reconciliation, when and if Brussels is willing to return more power to nation states.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri