WATCH: Nick Clegg: Voters don’t like being told by Brexiteers that they have no right to a say

Classy stuff from Nick Clegg on the BBC News Channel. It was put to him that we couldn’t extrapolate a wider Liberal Democrat resurgence from the Richmond Park result. That’s perfectly right, he said, and then came out with a whole stream of stats showing how well we are doing in local government by-elections and everywhere where people get a chance to hear what we have to say.

He also said that Brexiteers are rubbing voters up the wrong way by dismissing their concerns and right to be heard. Watch the interview here.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Clegg would do well to stay out of the headlines and leave it to Tim Farron. He should remember that the vast majority of the seats the Lib Dems lost to the Tories (20 out of 27) in 2015 voted for brexit, he’s not making it any easier to win them back. It was the Labour and Green vote that helped win Richmond Park and they may not be as willing to help the Lib Dems at the next GE.

  • malc
    I think it is pretty obvious that we are on a knife edge with regard to opinion in the country. For people with my views, Clegg is being timid, and not coming out fully in support of blocking it. However, I think we can see where he is coming from, that we need more evidence of the people realising that Brexit is a lose – lose scenario (to throw a good cliche into the mix!) before it becomes full policy to do the latter. Let us be quite clear – opinion has already shifted, and will shift more (how long will it be before you pitch for Remain, malc?)

  • “Let us be quite clear – opinion has already shifted, and will shift more”

    Could it be that opinion has shifted, but not in the direction you are thinking.

    In the EU referendum it is said over 70% of Richmond Park voted to Remain.
    LD’s made this By-election all about Brexit nothing else and yet Sarah Olney only managed to get under 50% of the vote 49.7% in fact.
    That is a huge swing in this constituency from REMAIN to LEAVE.

  • Peter Andrews 2nd Dec '16 - 6:09pm

    Only if you totally ignore the Brexit supporting incumbent MP with a 23,000+ majority at the last general election. It was a by-election not a one constituency referendum

  • Tim 13

    “(how long will it be before you pitch for Remain, malc?)”

    I did pitch for remain at the referendum, but my view is now that we have lost lets support the government in getting the best deal for the UK. I think we will be out of the EU before 2020 and wonder what else the Lib Dems will have to offer the voters.

  • Philip Rolle 2nd Dec '16 - 9:41pm

    This is the start of a Lib Dem revival but it isn’t the start of a Remain revival. The party of protest needs other causes than Europe.

  • @Malc – A bad policy remains a bad policy irrespective of whether a majority supports it or not. It isn’t the job of the Lib Dems to support a government that is committed to pursuing the hardest of hard Brexits when that that is forecast to result in the worst possible outcome for the country. And, lest you forget, the result of an advisory referendum is advice. As always, Parliament remains free to make its own decision.

  • ‘The Liberal Democrats is the only party that is open, tolerant….’

    Actually the more time I spend reading the articles posted by various members of the party, and talking to campaigners, the closer I come to thinking that there is a not insignificant part of the party that would struggle to live up to that part of the statement by Nick.
    I’d also question whether it is the real voice of opposition to the government, I suggest that accolade goes to the S.N.P at present.

  • ‘He also said that Brexiteers are rubbing voters up the wrong way by dismissing their concerns and right to be heard.’
    So now they know how many of the Brexiteers have been feeling since, oh, lets say the Blair government to the present day. I remember watching question time as a teenager (geek!) when it started to become increasingly common practice for any question from an audience member regarding controlling immigration, or asking about the impact of immigration on various communities was treated as beyond contempt by labor and liberals. I can remember Prescott stating ‘I’m not going to allow you to play the race card’ to a member of the audience, Lib Dems were no more welcoming of questions on immigration, blindly refusing to accept that there was any negative aspect to unlimited free movement.
    It is only the conservative party that was willing to deliver on the referendum, despite labour promising one and the Lib Dems supporting the idea.
    Perhaps if there had been a more open debate about the immigration back in the day, and an acceptance that it is o.k to question unlimited freedom of movement from Europe we may not have had a vote to leave.
    How things have changed….with Dianne Abbots recent views of those who voted Brexit.
    I accept the concerns of leave voters and their right to be heard…. I’ve heard little else on the news and political discussion programs since 23rd June.
    If parliament overturns leave, or demands a third referendum then I will accept the due democratic process of a sovereign parliament, something which I believe in and voted for, and will watch the subsequent outcomes with very great interest.

  • Mark Goodrich 3rd Dec '16 - 10:06pm

    Nick was spot on in terms of the government ignoring Remain voters. However, I was disappointed that he did not seem to be sticking to the party policy of a referendum on the deal. I am completely biased because I proposed this as a policy on these pages days afte the result but, in my view, it is the right policy to unite both Remain voters and Leave voters who having second thoughts. As each day passes, it becomes clearer that things are much more complicated than the Brexiteers would have us believe. There should be no shame in Leave voters changing their mind as the government gets mugged by reality.

  • David Pearce 3rd Dec '16 - 10:51pm

    I think Clegg’s association with the tories severely damaged the lib dem party. However, if the name of the game is persuading remain tories to abandon their lifelong party, someone with such a close association to the party might be just the one to do it. In this situation ‘tory light’ might have significant appeal.

    But at the same time, Richmond could not have been won without the other left parties standing aside. For a left alliance to win at the next general election, this will have to continue.

    Oh, and there is just a chance the supreme court might rule that the Scottish parliament has an absolute veto on the westminster parliament triggering article 50 without its consent. Who is planning for that one?

  • It’s a bit of a mystery to me why it is that having won the referendum to leave the EU, so many brexiters are quite so red faced about ‘liberal plots to remain’, ‘liberals saying that we are stupid’ … honestly, the beeb’s Question Time programme is tedious in the extreme now, as all we seem to keep hearing is these shrieks ad infinitum, along with frequent use of ‘bremoaner’.

    Personally, I think that they are turning up the heat following their narrow victory because they know that winning any sort of second referendum would be very hard for them indeed. If we look at what happens last time, endless repetition of dubious claims, the leading my brexiters behaving as some sort of government in waiting offering more money for this, less of that – things that they could never deliver because I believe that they never expected to win. Hence most of them melted away, and left the mess to mrs may to sort out.

    All of which is a long way of saying that we know that we were firmly on the side of 48% of the people, and we shouldn’t let the heat, light, rage and thunder put us off. The SNP does very nicely indeed in Scotland on 48%!

  • It’s very likely that the scots parliament could derail brexit. The SNP are assiduous students of the constitution, and while others doze off they will be actively looking for ways to cause difficulty for the union, outrage in England and protection for Scotland. Exactly what their supporters elected them to do.

    My guess is that a clash will be found between Scots and U.K. law which the devolution agreeement will settle for holyrood. And if there isn’t a suitable clash currently (which I doubt, as there’s bound to be one), guess who’s in charge of the holyrood legislative chamber …..

  • The other ‘left’ parties did contest Richmond Park – I think everyone’s forgotten that this used to be a lib dem seat until ‘nice’ zac arrived.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Dec '16 - 11:44pm

    @David Pearce & @Johnmc “The other left parties …”
    Tories and Lib Dems look pretty interchangeable as far as voters in Richmond Park are concerned. It’s been a while since I could consider Lib Dems as one of the “left parties”.

  • Johnmc,
    The SNP will derail Brexit, I fear you will be sadly disappointed. I know being disappointed by politicians is hard, the Lib Dems getting into bed with the Tories disappointed me. The SNP are a one trick pony Indy will cure all, in that way they are the mirror image of the Brexiteers and Brexit will fix all.

  • post Richmond euphoria, may I express my reservations about the tone and direction of travel of our party. We lost the referendum so have no mandate to oppose the triggering of Article 50. For once, abstaining on such a vote in Parliament seems the right course of action. We should also drop our insistence on a second referendum. Surely we have learnt/ed? how polarising referendums are. Instead we should be advocating what terms we would want to negotiate with the rest of Europe in a post Brexit agreement including
    compromises on freedom of movement- see Nick Clegg’s comment on Sunday Politics with Andrew Neil

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