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Nick Clegg wants leaders who ‘drunk the Brexit cool aid’ to answer if Brexit goes wrong

PUBLISHED: 17:01 29 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:02 29 March 2017

Nick Clegg, Lib Dem spokesman on the EU. Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Nick Clegg, Lib Dem spokesman on the EU. Steve Parsons/PA Wire

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Nick Clegg has claimed there will be an “industrial scale blame game” if Brexit “curdles and goes belly up”.

The former deputy prime minister said he thought civil servants, the foreign office, Brussels, the Germans and he would be blamed if things did not work out as “the Daily Mail and Brexit press and right-wing head-bangers” had decreed they would.

Questioned about our recent poll which suggested the region was still in favour of Brexit, Mr Clegg said he was not surprised because Brexit had not yet happened. He said it was an “open question” whether people would be swayed by a blame game if things went wrong.

He said promises over the NHS, immigration, trade deals to make up for trade lost from the EU and assurances the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland were “not remotely going to be delivered upon”.

He also warned Brexit would mean the government was “completely and utterly obsessed by Brexit” while care homes and schools and hospitals in their local communities are suffering.

“In North Norfolk and elsewhere people are going to increasingly feel like the government is just not doing its day job. Not properly managing public services people care about, much more than the EU or Brexit,” he added.

Mr Clegg said that while he respected voters, he had a “quarrel” with the “leaders who wilfully lied to voters knowing they would not be held to account”.

He said: “One or two things will happen. Either we are going to crash out with no deal and people will say that wasn’t very smart, or they are going to paper over the cracks so much that nothing is really going to change at all and people will say what is the point of that then, we might as well be a full member of the club.

“I keep hearing this from Brexiteers – nothing will change, young people will be able to travel and all the rest of it, no no no people will still be able to come in from the Baltics and pick vegetables and fruit in the fields and factories. What are we doing it for then? Either it is going to be a bad thing, in which people will say it is a bad thing, or a damp squib in which case people are going to say why did we do all this.”

“I suppose, and I have to remain open to this possibility it is going to be great, splendiferous, and people like me will have to have the modesty to admit they are wrong. I doubt the people on the other side of the debate will have the modesty to admit they are wrong if it doesn’t turn out as they have promised.”

Mr Clegg said he had stopped talking to former justice secretary and leading Brexit campaigner Michael Gove “a long time ago”.

But he said he still met George Osborne and David Cameron and went for “long liquid lunches” with leading Conservative europhile Ken Clarke “from time to time”,

“For good or ill, probably a bit of both, I have always sought to work with other parties. but I do reserve a fair amount of irritation and frustration for folk like Gove and Johnson because it seems to me they acted like the pied pipers of the referendum and the moment the going got tough, they buggered off. They disappeared. They haven’t been held responsible for the decisions they encouraged people to take.”

“It would have been ideal and it would have been natural justice if Gove or Johnson had become Conservative leader.”

“It would be much better if someone who had drunk the Brexit cool aid had been answerable for this stuff.”


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