LibLink: Nick Clegg: Hypocritical Brexiteers are as much an elite as those they rage against

I reckon that Nick Clegg’s columns will be more often than not about the EU for the next few months.

This week, he’s looking into the records of those “men of the people” Brexiteers such as Boris, Farage, Zac Goldsmith and Nigel Lawson:

Well, there’s Lord Lawson, the 83-year-old former chairman of Vote Leave who was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher. He now lives for much of the year in the South of France, nurturing his climate-change scepticism and loathing of the EU from the sunny climes of the Gascon countryside.

Then there’s Nigel Farage, always ready to claim the everyman mantle over a pint of ale in a traditional English pub. Nigel had a long career as a City trader before he became an MEP 17 years ago, and has failed now on seven occasions to become an MP — hardly evidence of someone seeking to shun the Westminster establishment.

How about Arron Banks, the millionaire Conservative donor who defected to Ukip and co-founded the Leave.EU campaign? The insurance magnate was named in the Panama Papers this week as the shareholder of a company based in the British Virgin Islands.

There’s Zac Goldsmith, the Eurosceptic Tory mayoral candidate, who parades himself as a scourge of the Westminster establishment. He is the son of a billionaire whose whole mayoral campaign appears to be based on the claim that his closeness to the powerful in Westminster will help Londoners.

And then, of course, there is the de facto, swashbuckling Brexiteer leader himself, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, late of Eton College and the Bullingdon Club. As anti-elitists go, they are an extraordinarily rarefied elite themselves.

He goes on to look at the real question voters should ask in the referendum:

The question at this referendum shouldn’t be some synthetic “us versus them” argument, or some self-serving bilge about the people versus the ruling elite. It should simply be this: “What is best for the future prosperity, safety and wellbeing of our country?” No matter how hard the Brexit camp claim they represent the interests of ordinary people against an unfeeling elite, this should remain the real question.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • Tony Dawson 9th Apr '16 - 2:48pm

    Unfortunately in politics, as in much of life, it ain’t what you say but the way that you say it. And also who says it. I agree with much of what Nick Clegg says here. I just know from my canvassing over the past three or four weeks that there is a whole chunk of people (we used to mark them down on canvass as ‘soft Labour’) who distrust Nick almost to the point that pretty much anything he says, regardless of how correct or profound it is, will be considered as ‘wrong’ unless some someone else shows them that it might be right.

  • Or you could say that if you were going to vote on the people rather than the issue neither camp are up to much. After all the in campaign is being lead by Honest Dave “Tax-haven” Cameron with cheerleaders such as Tony “Weapons of Mass Destruction” Blair and George “competent” Osborne etc.

  • Michael Berridge 9th Apr '16 - 3:45pm

    Yes, Glenn. Quite.
    As Peter Riesbeck put it in yesterday’s Berliner Zeitung (I translate):
    “The Dutch vote [on the Ukraine association agreement] is not encouraging. Cameron too has lost the initiative, and London’s Mayor Boris Johnson is campaigning to Leave. So that means: The British vote will be more of a nationwide poll on the leadership of the governing Conservative party. It is not just about rejection from below, then, but also, as Cameron’s and [Dutch prime minister Mark] Rutte’s indecisive behaviour shows, about failure from above. That does not make things any easier for Europe.”

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Apr '16 - 3:54pm

    I think that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  • David Cooper 9th Apr '16 - 4:32pm

    Westminster School educated Nick Clegg MP is himself hardly a son of the soil. However he does have a good underlying point. Even if leaving the EU was the best idea since sliced bread, would you trust this motley crew to carry it out? Most likely, we will end up exchanging a union with Europe for a de-facto tax union with Panama.

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 10th Apr '16 - 1:23am

    The Irish referendum on Lisbon became a vote on the government of the day.

    That is partly what led to their being a second referendum and the polls showed that holding a second referendum was very popular with the Irish public.

    I don’t think we will have two here though. I think people will focus on the real issues and vote to remain in.

  • Anthony Cook.

    They could of course vote on what they see as the real issues and vote to leave. The problem for me is that few people in the Lib Dems or Labour seems to have a clue what to do should there be an out vote.

    When referendum was announced, I was firmly in the remain camp and thoroughly expected a convincing case for what the EU does to actively benefit people. So far all I’ve really heard is the Brexiteers are terrible, the sky will fall in, everyone against it is a little Englander who wants to go back to the 1950s, we’re too weak to survive on our own without Daddy Europe and generally just a rerun of what the Scottish Independence movement called project fear.

  • From this thread I have learned that
    (1) The leaders of the Brexit campaign are wealthy, out-of-touch hypocrites.
    (2) The leaders of the Bremain campaign are wealthy, out-of-touch hypocrites.
    It’s been enlightening.

  • How does the concept of the “Liberal DEMOCRATS” square with an anti-democratic EU superstate?

  • Peter Davies 10th Apr '16 - 6:36pm

    The EU is by far the most democratic way in which decisions have ever been made at European level. It is far more democratic than the most optimistic diplomatic alternative put forward by Brexiters and that is far far better than the three thousand years of hot and cold wars which made up reality before the EU.

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