Nick Clegg warns EU exit would break up UK and destroy influence abroad

The former Deputy Prime Minister claims that the Scottish National Party will use the referendum to make another push for an independent Scotland.

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The Independent Online

Nick Clegg will warn of that the UK’s influence as a global financial centre will be hugely diminished if the country votes to leave the EU in a referendum due before the end of 2017 – not just by severing it from Europe, but because Scotland would likely leave in the UK in the aftermath.

The former Deputy Prime Minister claims that the Scottish National Party will use the referendum to make another push for an independent Scotland.

"The stakes could not be higher: not just one, but two, unions now hang in the balance. If we vote to leave the EU, I have no doubt that the SNP will gleefully grab the opportunity to persuade the people of Scotland to leave the UK as well," he will say at the Liberal Democrats Conference in Bournemouth, according to extracts of a speech released by his office.

This appearance will be Mr Clegg’s return to the Lib Dem conference stage four months after his party suffered a major defeat at the general election, losing 49 of the 57 House of Commons lawmakers it had before.

The speech comes as new Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron, who replaced Nick Clegg in July, launches the party’s campaign to stay in the EU.

In the event of a UK exit Britain will turn into ‘Little England’, Mr Clegg will also warn.

"Is America, Uncle Sam, going to help us out when we’ve cut ourselves off from our own European backyard?" he will say before adding “Of course not – we may share history and language, but the Americans have been unsentimentally clear that we are of less relevance to them if we are less important in Brussels, Berlin or Paris."

Mr. Clegg will directly address the new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and remind him next year’s referendum is too important for ambivalence.

After some confusion, Labour’s position on the EU referendum was only clarified last week when the party issued a statement confirming that Labour will be campaigning in the referendum for the UK to stay in Europe.

No date has been set yet but David Cameron promised an in-out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union by the end of 2017.

 

Ultimately for Nick Clegg the referendum poses an existential question to British people and will determine the nation’s identity.

"Whether we remain in or out of Europe is an existential question for Britain – if we leave we face an uncertain and isolated future; if we stay in we can lead as a strong European power," the speech says.

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