Nick Clegg has said Nigel Farage should be the “role model” for committed Remain voters who want to see the UK rejoin the EU.
The former deputy prime minister said while Britain was on course to leave the EU in March 2019, there was no reason that had to be the end of the “dream”.
In his new book, How To Stop Brexit, due to be published on Thursday, Clegg said Farage’s “sheer bloody-minded refusal to give up” on achieving Brexit should be seen as an “inspiration”.
And in an extract of the book published on HuffPost UK on Thursday, Clegg said the “silver lining” of the Brexit vote “may lead to the conditions in which the UK could be reintegrated into a reformed EU”.
“Britain has enjoyed a special status throughout our time as a member of the EU and, should we choose to, we could do so once again. It would be a logical continuation of what we have previously achieved on so many occasions,” he said.
“Crucially, this task – of reuniting the UK with the EU, but on an altered and reformed basis – will be made all the more possible because the rest of the EU is beginning to redesign its entire structure itself.
“The Brexit vote was a major catalyst in pushing EU governments to accept that change can no longer be avoided.”
Clegg adds: “Yet just at the point that Brexit appears to make us more of an island than ever, it could paradoxically lead to changes in the EU that will offer us a way back in.”
In his book, the former Lib Dem leader argues voters who want to see the UK return to the EU should learn from Tory eurosceptics who spent years battling against the odds to achieve what had long seemed impossible.
“The battalion of greying Conservative MPs you have never heard of; the shady financiers of the Brexit elite; the loopy rantings of Paul Dacre; those obscure campaign groups and the obsessive scribblers of angry letters — all these people fought relentlessly for Brexit, over many years, long before the term ‘Brexit’ had even been invented,” he said.
“They were often subject to ridicule and frequently occupied the outer fringes of mainstream politics, but if they hadn’t endlessly chipped away, then the political avalanche of the referendum would never have happened. At times it must have seemed as if nobody was listening. At times nobody was listening. In the end, however, they got their way.”
Clegg added: “In all of this, I want you to look for inspiration from the most surprising quarter — from the very people who campaigned to drag Britain out of the European Union. Yes, Nigel Farage should be your role model. Not for his views, obviously, or for his divisive rhetoric, but for his sheer bloody-minded refusal to give up.”