Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg on ‘visceral rage’ that keeps his anti-Brexit campaign alive
- Credit: Harry Taylor
“Why on earth am I still banging on about Brexit?”
Since former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg lost his seat in the 2017 General Election’s shock result, he has dedicated his life to battling against Brexit.
On Thursday night he told a packed Open Britain Hampstead talk at Fleet Road Primary School in Gospel Oak, why he still felt “visceral rage” over the result, and how he believed younger voters had been betrayed during the referendum.
He said: “I find it unthinkable that none of our young people can grow up in the country they want to because they were sold a pack of lies.
“More than 70per cent of the generation wanted a future that they are not allowed to have. To tell the people they have to live with the consequences of that is unconscionable.
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“Why haven’t I retired? It’s the visceral rage that I feel the young people of this country have been denied a future they voted for.”
He revealed in the final week of the EU referendum, he realised while door knocking in South Yorkshire that the referendum was starting to look beyond remain.
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“It was such a listless campaign. I find it amazing that 16.1million people voted Remain. I spoke to a man I had previously helped when I was a constituency MP, who was self-employed. He said: ‘Come on Nick, you can’t expect me to tick a box that says remain, which means everything will remain the same. I am taking less home a week to spend on my kids and my partner. Remain are going to win anyway’,” he said.
A concerned Sir Clegg then contacted David Cameron, urging him to change tact but the Prime Minister refused to do so.
He said he believed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would vote against the final deal and would still play a role in keeping Britain in the EU.
“I’m an optimist. I can’t see Jeremy Corbyn, the standard bearer for socialism, giving his backing to a deal that would be a hard-right wing Brexit.”
Speaking to the Ham&High after the talk, Clegg said that he hoped the talk had encouraged people who wanted Britain to stay in the European Union. “It is very important in politics that you put fire in the belly of the troops and people who are anguished about our departure from the EU feel they can do something about it.”
He also said that the period of time since the referendum in June 2016 had given people the space to reflect on the issues. “The more that people are cooly looking at the reality of Brexit, that it’s more complicated, more lengthy, more costly than they were ever led to believe, that over time has quite a profound effect on how people think about the future.”