EXCLUSIVE: Nick Clegg on Brexit and Scottish independence: Everybody loses

Nick Clegg talked earlier this week about the possibility of a second independence referendum in Scotland following the Brexit vote. This has been construed in some quarters as implied support of independence.  He has written to Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie to enthusiastically endorse the position he has taken – that the Liberal Democrats will campaign to keep Scotland in both the UK and the EU. Independence, he says, would only compound the problems of Brexit meaning that everybody loses.

Here is his letter in full:

Dear Willie

You will have read that I have been warning about the renewed risk of independence this week.

The warnings that we both made about the tension that would be generated in the different parts of the United Kingdom if there was a Brexit vote have turned into reality.

The Conservatives’ bungling on the European Union has encouraged the Nationalists to propose yet another independence referendum risking the future of the United Kingdom.

I have a life-long, unshakeable belief in our family of nations.  I do not believe there is a compelling case for independence, though the SNP will of course use all of their efforts to present it as such.   Compounding the problems of Brexit with the problems of independence is not my answer to the result of the EU referendum. That is why I reject independence.  I want to keep Scotland in the UK and the U.K. in Europe.

It is surprising to me that neither the SNP nor the the Conservatives can see the inconsistency in their positions.  Recognising the need for interdependence, unity and strength in today’s world means working within and benefiting from both Unions – the United Kingdom and the EU.  For the Nationalists to reject the former and the Tories to reject the latter means the same thing.  Everyone loses.

You are making that positive, progressive, moderate case for those two unions and you have my full support.


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  • Alan Crerar 16th Sep '16 - 9:44am

    Whether a supporter of Yes/No or Leave/Remain, I don’t think either the SNP or Tories can be accused of inconsistancy. The SNP are and always will be for Independence for Scotland, while the Conservatives have in the past, covertly at times, and completely openly today been there to support the elite, inequality and self-enrichment. (For the purposes of balance, I have to idea what Labour are for).
    I believe it has been the LibDems who have been inconsistent over the last 20 years or so (maybe less) – in Scotland by their visceral opposition to the SNP prevented the ‘middle road’ of a federal UK proposal to take hold (which I think the SNP would have accepted as a stepping stone, and at WM by the unfortunate coalition of the previous GE which allied us to the Tories and by association with, eventually, the Brexit arm of that party.
    The Carmichaelgate debacle (and the unfortunate Malcolm Bruce support mis-speak!) were just a sideshow, but an illuminating one none-the-less.

  • Barry Snelson 16th Sep '16 - 10:43am

    There has been much hopeful talk of a ‘Federal UK’ but it has always foundered due to the miss-match in sizes of the four nations.
    A 55 million citizen England will outvote the others in a Federal Senate just as emphatically as in the Commons.
    The option to give all four equal status must disenfranchise the great mass of the English.
    An alternative common proposal is to disintegrate England into some ‘regions’.
    This also quickly fails because the obvious question “and what powers will these ‘regional parliaments have?” is always is dodged, fudged or ignored.
    Income Tax?, education?, welfare? – these killer questions are just blustered away.
    To be blunt, England is too big, and will either have to be sidelined or destroyed and any denials that this is inevitable are based on desperation.
    The UK may well be all over. It looks like it for the moment. The term ‘Federal UK’ is a soundbite as empty and meaningless as “Brexit is Brexit”.

  • Isn’t it odd that at a time when Nicola Sturgeon and her team are pursuing all options and doing whatever it takes to secure Scotland’s interests with regard to Brexit, all unionist politicians want to talk about is independence?
    Perhaps it is the result of a guilty conscience because they know they cannot evade their responsibility for the mess that their idea of putting Scotland’s future in the hands of voters in England has caused.

  • Ronald M Murray 17th Sep '16 - 1:01pm

    As a Scottish Lib Dem member that voted remain I am saddened by the current state of affairs in Scotland and the UK as a whole. We have two governments run on ideology alone. SNP not voting on English matters gives the Tories a permanent majority.
    The Tories are the architects of our situation holding a Brexit vote expecting remain to win but having no alternative plan. At least the SNP in Scotland produced a document detailing the case for an independent Scotland. However to base such dramatic constitutional changes on the dreaded first past the post system was madness. In both cases at least 60% for at least is needed for such changes. If England was divided into federal areas it would not be so dominating in the union, this is how we must proceed.
    The SNP have not been perfect in nationalising the police and fire services appear to be only asset stripping. Now they want to add the British Transport Police to Police Scotland for no good reason, no doubt to sell off the Scottish HQ and make up numbers.
    My own personal problem is the Edinburgh Fire Museum is going to be lost so the Lauriston Building in Edinburgh can be sold off. The British Fire Service as we know started in Edinburgh under James Braidwood who later formed London Fire Establishment. Obviously Scottish history means nothing to these self proclaimed Scottish Patriots. The Brexit result should be ignored based on such a small majority, it may be however the kick up the backside the EU needs to reform.

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