Ferrari takes aim at ’mystic Clegg’ over claim ‘hard Brexit' will lead to food price hikes
Mr Clegg, who is leading the charge for a parliamentary vote over Brexit, has claimed that Theresa May’s decision to announce a proposed date to trigger Article 50 is a huge setback to negotiations, insisting it shouldn’t happen until the end of 2017.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Clegg took aim at key Leave figures, saying they had not made a clear enough case for what Brexit would look like.
He said: “Boris Johnson said we could stay in the single market. Apparently people like Michael Gove and Daniel Hannan ludicrously claim that immigration had nothing to do with it – having scared the living daylights out of everybody by claiming falsely that 8 million Turks would flood into the United Kingdom.”
Speaking ahead of a Liberal Democrats food and drink Brexit impact report on LBC, he warned that Britain could only avoid tariffs on beef exports of 59%, chocolate at 38%, cheese at 40% and wine at 14%, with a soft Brexit.
Unconvinced by Mr Clegg’s comments, presenter Ferrari asserted: “This is where you become Mystic Clegg. We don’t know what trade deal we might have.”
Mr Clegg responded: “What I’m taking at face value is what Liam Fox and others have said. Crispin Blunt, the Conservative chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee has said it’s no problem if we leave not only the EU but the single market in the Customs Union because we can, as they put it, resort to WTO tariffs, the World Trade Organisation, which is this big global organisation everyone – 160-odd countries – sit together thrashing out trade deals.
“So what I, not just myself by the way, a number of independent experts who’ve helped me with this report, have looked at what the tariffs would be if we did what they say, not what I say.”
Interrupting, the frustrated host questioned: “What? If we had no deal in place? That’s never going to happen. That is scaremongering, you are a scaremongerer.”
“If I’m a champagne producer, I’m not going to allow one of my key markets to be closed to me, am I?” to which Mr Clegg retorted: “Unfortunately it’s not up to the French champagne producers to define what the terms of Brexit are. It’s up to our Government.
“If you don’t have an interim trade deal in place, I’m just using this report to spell out what that might mean for one sector, which is the food and drink sector.”
The Lib Dems claimed that £11bn worth of British farm produce exported to Europe will be hit with an average charge of 22.3% if the Government opts for a hard Brexit and leaves the single market.
Mr Clegg denied he was trying to subvert democracy by calling for a parliamentary vote on the terms of Britain leaving the EU.
Blasting the MP, Eurosceptic Tory MP Steve Baker claimed Mr Clegg’s demand for a vote was “nonsense”.
He said: “Imagine buying a house and telling the seller how much you’d be prepared to pay?
“Imagine sending an army into battle but giving your plans to the enemy?”