Nick Clegg meets Richard Thaler: ‘All it would take to stop Brexit is a couple of dozen brave Tories’

The Guardian set Nick Clegg up for a Skype interview with Richard Thaler, who has recently been awarded the Nobel economics prize.

Thaler was a big influence on the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition and it is clear from this interview that Thaler and Clegg admire each other somewhat.

At times the interview may come across to some as typical smug metropolitan centrist dadism, with the pair shaking their heads at how stupid everyone else is being. But when you read Nick Clegg’s anecdote about speaking to a voter in Chesterfield, you understand why he feels that way.

I remember speaking to a guy leaning on the fence outside his house and saying: “Any chance you’ll vote for the Liberal Democrats?” And he said: “No way.” And I said: “Why not?” And he said: “Because of all these asylum seekers.” And I knew for a fact that not a single asylum seeker had been dispersed to Chesterfield. So I said to him: “Oh, have you seen these asylum seekers in the supermarket or the GP’s surgery?” And he said something to me that has remained with me ever since. He said: “No, I haven’t seen any of them, but I know they’re everywhere.”

1 comment

  1. The Liberal Democrats had a five-year opportunity to be the “two dozen brave Tories”. They didn’t take it – in any demonstrated context. That’s why they’re not seen as a “third party” any more (the Greens and SNP are more likely to be seen that way, and the Greens are a much smaller party than the Lib Dems). Stopping anything big is more than just getting a good group of rebels together (ask Labour about that one).

    There were no pre-Article 50 negotiations because under EU regulations they’re not allowed, and now it’s been triggered, it’s legally irreversible. Even if every single MP voted to reverse Brexit tomorrow, the EU would be obliged by its laws to decline the request.

    The only thing that can be done, according to EU law, is to trigger Article 49 to rejoin as soon as Britain leaves the EU. Of course, the deal won’t be as good as the one we have now – expect the tax rebate we currently get to be gone forever – but there’s no legal avenue for the UK to quite the Article 50 process.

    Also, by the time Article 49 is enactable, we’ll probably have a different government in power anyway. The Tory government is falling over and it wouldn’t take many more by-election losses for it to be completely untenable. Which, by the look of it, would be facilitated by more refugees/asylum-seekers, more evenly distributed. (I don’t think Chesterfield officially has any asylum-seekers now, either – though it does have quite a few recently-arrived Polish and Lithuanian workers…)

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