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Green Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg: There has been a pact of silence on Brexit between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

June 6, 2017 9:48 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

He stressed it is still possible to stop a self-destructive Brexit that would damage Britain's economy and security, and that the country needs Liberal Democrat MPs who will fight to stay in the single market and give people the chance to vote on the final deal.

He said in the speech:

On May and Corbyn colluding over Brexit

"There has been a pact of silence on Brexit between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. It is one of the most cynical acts of political collusion between the two larger parties in a generation

"Strip away the contrast in tone and the differences in language and a striking reality emerges: both the Conservative and Labour positions on Brexit are now more or less identical.

"Pull Britain out of the Customs Union and the Single Market. Abruptly bring an end to freedom of movement. Deny the people any chance to decide on the final deal. They are in total agreement."

On the Brexit squeeze

"With average earnings growth failing to keep up with prices, consumers are already beginning to feel the Brexit squeeze.

"Price rises have hit energy bills, petrol, and clothes. It's enough to make anyone need a fortifying glass of wine - but last week it was reported that the average price of a bottle of wine has hit its highest price ever.

On the risk of no deal

"No deal would, according to the Treasury, mean a loss of £45bn a year. To put this in perspective, £45bn is more money than the entire schools budget for England. To plug a gap like that in the public finances you would either need to raise the basic rate of income tax by 10 pence in the pound, or to make cuts to public services and the salaries of those who work for them on an unimaginable scale.

"This is what Theresa May means when she casually threatens to walk away from the negotiating table. No deal isn't a cuddly alternative to a poor deal. It's far worse. It's a disaster for Britain."

On the cost of leaving single market

"The Treasury figures are an indictment of the central objective of Theresa May's negotiating strategy - to walk away from Margaret Thatcher's Single Market.

"This decision alone carries a long-term price tag of £16bn a year. For that money, you could give every hospital in the UK a £12m cash injection, or provide the average school with an extra half a million pounds."

On Theresa May

"Negotiating Brexit is going be a tightrope act. It requires subtlety, creativity and the ability to win friends. Above all, it requires sure-footedness to keep on top of dozens of simultaneous interlocking negotiations.

"Instead, we are being asked to elect a leader who is unsteady in the limelight, incapable of straight talking, and prone to chaotic u-turns."

On security

"How will Britain be kept safe after Brexit? Theresa May has vowed to pull Britain out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, a decision which means we would no longer have access to vital EU-wide databases of criminal activity.

"Just last year, a not-so-distant era when Theresa May made perfectly rational arguments against leaving Europe, she warned that being in the UK makes us "more secure from crime and terrorism".

"So where are the contingency plans when our police forces find themselves unable to check the databases of 28 EU countries at the touch of a button? If only she would deign to tell us then maybe we could judge."

Changing course on Brexit

"While Britain may stand on the brink of a self-destructive Brexit, we can stop it happening. There is a way to change course.

"What this country needs are MPs who are prepared to hold this government to account, fight every step of the way to keep Britain in the Single Market and at the end of the process, offer you a chance to vote on the final deal.

"I have no intention of giving up, and neither do the Liberal Democrats. Because only the Liberal Democrats will provide the opposition to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn that this country so desperately needs."

You can read Nick's full speech here