Nick Clegg challenges David Davis over Brexit

Nick Clegg has had a right go at David Davis over the lack of Parliamentary Scrutiny over Brexit. He questioned after Davis made a statement to the Commons.

From the BBC:

Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, now his party’s EU spokesman, says the Commons has a “rightful role of scrutiny”.

David Davis suggests that Mr Clegg “cannot tell the difference between scrutiny and micro-management” – to some degree of uproar in the House.

Labour MP Angela Eagle says this is “the first time I’ve ever heard Parliamentary sovereignty described as micro-management”.

His intervention was well received:

Afterwards, Nick tweeted:

In a statement, he elaborated:

The referendum was a vote to leave the European Union, not a vote to leave the Single Market.

The Conservative Party made a clear commitment in their 2015 manifesto to maintain Britain’s membership of the Single Market.

Given the vital importance of membership of the Single Market to the UK economy, it cannot be left to the Conservative government to decide on this course of action without any reference to parliament.

David Davis has always been a staunch defender of parliamentary sovereignty, and even tabled his own Bill on the Parliamentary Control of the Executive in 1999.

He needs to explain why he suddenly believes the government can vandalise the economy by hauling us out of the Single Market without even asking parliament for the authority to do so.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Eddie Sammon 10th Oct '16 - 8:09pm

    This is true but the vote wasn’t a vote to maintain the status quo on free movement either. We need a compromise.

    Lib Dem policy says the party wants to “protect free movement”, but what does protect mean in this instance? Does protect mean “no change”?

    A Conservative MEP says Liechtenstein is a member of the single market and has residency controls. The Lib Dems should scrutinise both sides, not just scrutinise the UK government.

    We’ve also got a group of expats trying to sue Jean-Claude Juncker over his insistence that negotiations cannot begun until Article 50 is triggered. It’s already been mentioned here how little the party has had to say about UK nationals abroad and now they are taking things into their own hands and not just blaming brexiters.

  • Barry Snelson 10th Oct '16 - 8:46pm

    Must commend Tim. Go after these bunglers. As they don’t have any plan it should be easy but don’t let up and keep pointing out the damage their lack of progress is doing. Tory voters need to be given a reason to abandon them and “incompetence” will do.

  • “I will forgive no one who does not respect the sovereign voice of the British people once it has spoken. Whether it is a majority of 1% of 20%, when the British people have spoken you do what they command. Either you believe in democracy or you do not.”

  • I think people need to manage their expectations about how much parliamentary scrutiny there can practically be. The government may have no more than 2 years in which to negotiate the kind of wide-ranging deal with the EU that other non-EU countries have failed to do in literally decades. There simply won’t be time to consult parliament every step of the way; and even if there were, the EU would be under no obligation whatsoever to give us what parliament says it wants.

    Nick Clegg is talking as if the government has the power to demand access to (not membership of, which does not exist) the single market if it wants to, but the fact is that any one of the other EU countries can deny us this if it wants. The EU holds all the cards here: we will have to accept whatever it offers or walk away with nothing.

  • The electorate clearly voted for an end to mass immigration,if that means no single market then so be it.

    Voters wishes need to be respected & not subverted.

  • In the same debate, John Redwood claimed if MPs didn’t like the way the government was handling brexit, that they could have a vote of no confidence in the government and call an election, and that the opposition wasn’t going to do that, as they are not good at winning elections, to which David Davis responded: “Make my day,” – as though an election, would let him crush Labour. Obviously not thinking about the Lib Dems.

  • @Peter (no surname ?)
    In that case why dont we elect MPs for life ? Why do we have regular elections every 4 or 5 years ? Wasnt the Peoples Voice good enough the first time ?
    Democracy is based on the reasonable assumption that things change & The Peoples opinions change. Once the fog of Brexit has cleared a little the People can speak again.

  • @John “The electorate clearly voted for an end to mass immigration”

    I marvel at your ability to read the minds of 17 million people.
    Perhaps you were given a different ballot paper than the one I received, but I didn’t find “immigration” anywhere on it.
    I concede that you might have thought you were making a statement about immigration, and I am sure many shared your view, but others may have had any number of reasons for voting ‘Leave’, (some, quite possibly, unconnected with the EU).

  • @Allan Brame

    The Lib Dems, the Guardian, and the Indpendent have been telling all and sundry that everyone who voted Leave was a racist with a hatred of foreigners. Are you now suggesting the vote had nothing to do with immigration control and your earlier views were faulty?

  • Andrew McCaig 10th Oct '16 - 11:16pm

    Anyone else noticed this??

    He seems to be just a bit bitter… And appears to be endorsing Liz!! Do we have someone about to cross the floor??

  • “Obviously not thinking about the Lib Dems.”

    For a split second maybe. Let’s be realistic. No point in triggering an election now; the Tories would win hands down. The time to do it is when the three stooges come back from Brussels with absolutely nothing, a complete failure, and a hard Brexit is the only thing on the table.

    In polls it appears that a majority are prepared to concede free movement for access to the free market. And the referendum itself had 48% clearly accepting free movement via Remain plus a reasonable proportion of Leavers wanting an EEA/EFTA solution. So a clear majority for retaining free movement there too.

  • Alan and John
    People probably voted either way for different reasons. There will be leave voters who did not vote to restrict immigration and there will be remain voters who want to restrict immigration, but who felt leaving the EU was a bad idea etc. What we do know on that particular subject is that when surveyed the results indicate that 70-77% (the vast majority) of the population want lower immigration. Logic suggests that this figure must include a good proportion of voters from both camps.

  • @John Peters
    Why spoil what passes for an argument with such ludicrous exaggeration?
    Of course not all Leave voters were racist, and no serious commentator suggested they were. I certainly didn’t.
    And had you bothered to read my previous post, you might have noticed that I said many Leave voters may well have been motivated by concerns over immigration, but we cannot know for sure. The question voters were asked was about the EU, not about immigration.

  • Andrew McCaig 10th Oct '16 - 11:38pm

    When asked that question in isolation of course most people want lower immigration.
    But the latest poll on the subject showed a small majority were prepared to accept freedom of movement to stay in the single market.

    If I said to Leave voters in Sunderland “Do you want lower immigration if it means you personally losing your job?” I suspect quite a few would say “no”. But that is quite likely exactly what is going to happen there within a few years if we go for hard Brexit..

  • If Nick Clegg, Tim Farron, Ed Miliband and others don’t trust the government they can always ask for a vote of no confidence. If they win we can have a GE and they can put their case to the people. However, all the polls suggest the Tories will win by a country mile and that could result in a decent Brexit majority in parliament.

  • Eddie
    “A Conservative MEP says Liechtenstein is a member of the single market and has residency controls.”
    So are the Channel Islands.

  • Andrew.
    I think freedom of movement is a bit of a red herring. For the EU it’s actually about citizenship. The point to me is that you could concede freedom of movement but maybe teak laws based around the right to reside. Also we really should stop including students in the immigration numbers which over inflates them and is about as logical as including tourist figures would be.

  • @Andrew it’s a fake account; someone having some fun.

  • Whilst bringing in my bins this morning I spoke to a neighbour (an avowed OUTER)…I mentioned the proposed 5p/ltr rise in fuel, the prospect of higher costs for food/goods and the possibility of a £66 billion loss to the economy of ‘hard’ Brexit…His answer, “Well we will govern ourselves and control immigration and, if we have to’tighten our belts a bit’, it’ll be worth it”….
    If he reflects the view of many ‘Leavers’ then another referendum would yield the same result…

  • expats

    “Well we will govern ourselves and control immigration and, if we have to’tighten our belts a bit’, it’ll be worth it”

    I haven’t met any “leaver” that would disagree with that. They don’t believe we will be financially worse off in the long term, but even if we are they just want out.

  • Daniel Walker 11th Oct '16 - 9:36am


    The Channel Islands are not, in fact, part of the EU, although they are part of the customs union.

    See: (although I grant that domain name suggests otherwise….)

  • Malc,
    My neighbour is, like me, a ‘comfortably off’ pensioner so any ‘belt tightening’ will have a minimal effect…….As he is over 80 I don’t know what ‘long term’ will mean to him…Certainly a lot less than to the younger members of society who voted, overwhelmingly, to remain..

  • @ Paul Barker
    I was quoting Paddy Ashdown.

  • Andrew McCaig 11th Oct '16 - 11:55am


    Yes, false Letwin account!
    Mea culpa

    Suspect he is not very happy though!

  • Andrew McCaig 11th Oct '16 - 12:02pm


    If Freedom of Movement is indeed a red herring it is one the Tories are tirelessly trawling! Not surprising from May who has been obsessed with immigration for years, including counting students and deporting 50,000 of them for cheating in English tests on the basis of little evidence…

    I was surprised in July when the Ashcroft poll showed the sovereignty issue actually was slightly more important for Leavers than immigration.. Although again a substantial majority of voters (when including Remain voters) were not too bothered about sovereignty either

  • This is a momentous time in British history. Maybe the country can eventually gain from Brexit (although I have serious doubts), maybe it will be a complete disaster, or most likely somewhere in-between.

    What is clear to me is that making a success of a process as complicated as Brexit will require the finest and brightest minds the country possesses, acting with selfless commitment to the long term good of the country. What it’s getting is Fox, Johnson and Davis.

    Some people say that the LibDems should give up and campaign for a “soft brexit”. Campaign to who, and how? May’s Brexiteers don’t give a toss what we think about anything. None of our 8 MPs will be invited to join any negotiating team.

    Persuading the country to change it’s mind over Brexit via another referendum or at the ballot box somehow may be a long shot, but it’s not as long as kidding ourselves we can have any influence over May’s Government regarding the firmness of the Brexit stool.

  • “The electorate clearly voted for an end to mass immigration,if that means no single market then so be it. Voters wishes need to be respected & not subverted.”

    Well some of them did, but then lots of them voted Conservative in 2015, despite the failure of the Conservatives to cut net migration to the tens of thousands (and lets be honest they could have stopped all non-EU migration) and UKIP didn’t seem to have any immigration policy or number they wished to enforce, so I blame the voters.

  • ^ The UK electorate voted to Leave the EU. There was no ballot on the Single Market.

    David Davis is one one extreme – Hard Brexit, which says that because the UK will leave the UK, then this automatically means no single market.

    Nick Clegg is at the other extreme – a Hard Remain, if we were to return to the EU (we will leave in 2019), that would mean the euro and no opt outs.

    Yes, we must Leave. But there are a variety of options available. Membership of the Single Market, outside the EU must be one option

  • Chris Edwards 14th Oct '16 - 4:25pm

    @John B. Once we invoke article 50 we lose the UK Rebate. If we want accessm to the single market we will have to pay an ammount based on GDP but without any rebate. Membership of single maket outside the EU is an option but a costly one.

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