Brexit chaos could see Lib Dems back in power, predicts Nick Clegg

Posted On: 
18th September 2016

The Liberal Democrats could be part of a cross-party “government of unity” within a few years after Brexit “paralyses” Theresa May’s administration, Nick Clegg has predicted.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg speaking at a rally before the 2015 general election
PA Images

The former deputy prime minister argued the Lib Dems will not necessarily “be out in the wilderness for a generation” despite the hammering the party took at the last general election.

“Politics is so volatile these days and this government is so rudderless when it comes to Brexit negotiations that Liberal Democrats should not dismiss the possibility that we might once again need to play a role in putting the country first sooner than people think,” he told the Observer.

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The former party leader claimed Brexit will “paralyse the government over the next few years”, while ministers realise they cannot “have their cake and eat it” in negotiations with the EU.

Mr Clegg was referring to the deal ministers will strike with the EU as it quits the bloc, and outstanding issues such as gaining single market access without concessions on the free movement of people.

He claimed this would lead to a “panic Brexit” before the 2020 election, where the Government under pressure from its members turns its back on Europe.

“I think at that point, particularly if investors start taking fright, and it starts dawning on people that the Government does not have a road map, I think that then the public appetite for other parties to provide an alternative will grow,” he said.

“It does not necessarily need to be a new amalgam party overnight. It could be. If that gridlock were to lead to a real sense of drift and malaise, it could be a government of national unity of some description, where parties of different persuasions say they will act together for a period of time, in order to get the country out of the corner the Tories have got it into.”

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron yesterday claimed at the party’s annual conference the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary shows the UK has “lost its marbles”.

He also claimed that his party "matter more than ever" in the wake of the Brexit vote - and hinted that Labour moderates could join the Lib Dems instead.