Boris Johnson is like Donald Trump “with a thesaurus”, Nick Clegg will claim, “ignoring the facts” and saying “whatever he wants” in an attempt to pull Britain out of the European Union.
In his first major speech of the campaign the former Liberal Democrat leader will claim that Mr Johnson is using the referendum campaign to burnish his chances of becoming Tory leader with scant regard for the economic impact on ordinary people of a ‘leave’ vote.
And he will accuse the former London mayor, along with Michael Gove and Nigel Farage, of being “careless elitists” whose own privileged position will shield them from the damaging effects of Brexit.
“Perhaps Boris has looked across the Atlantic at the Republican presidential front-runner and decided that with enough bluster and bravado he can get away with ignoring the facts and saying whatever he wants,” Mr Clegg will say.
“In fact, (he) and Michael Gove are probably the only people who think their job prospects might actually improve if we leave Europe.
“But this debate is too important for it to be decided by Boris acting like Trump with a thesaurus. It is not their livelihoods that are at stake.”
Mr Clegg has not, until now, played a particularly prominent role in the Remain campaign and his intervention will delight ‘leave’ campaigners who hope it will alienate floating voters.
“Britain Stronger in Europe announces Clegg speech tomorrow,” said Dominic Cummings, the campaign director of Vote Leave. “Feels like they're trying to throw the referendum.”
But in his speech the former Deputy Prime Minister will argue that pro-Europeans need to do more to show what British leadership in Europe will look like in the years ahead.
“To be ambitious for Britain we must be ambitious for Europe too,” he will say.
“We should be looking to lead Europe in economic reform, security, and the environment.
“Together we can meet the big challenges that face us and the many more that will test us in the years to come. Alone we are less equipped to do so. By leading in Europe, Britain can remain one of the world’s strongest economies and most influential nations.”
But he will also warn of the economic consequences of a vote to leave.
“No one – not a single authoritative economist or institution – thinks the result of Brexit will be better than what we have now, and the vast majority believe it will make us poorer and economically more insecure,” he will say.
“Brexiteers are happy to risk mass economic hardship in pursuit of an outcome they can't even describe or agree upon, whose consequences they will all be shielded from themselves. Yet they have the nerve to describe themselves as anti-elitist. They are the real, careless elitists of this referendum campaign.
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