Beyond Brexit: the challenges ahead for Britain and the European Union
On 20 April 2017, the Rafael del Pino Foundation organised the Keynote Lecture "Beyond Brexit: the challenges ahead for Britain and the European Union" given by Nick Clegg.
Nick Clegg is a well-known progressive liberal British politician who led the coalition between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democratic Party that governed the United Kingdom between 2010 and 2015, alongside David Cameron. He began his political career at the age of 32 as a Member of the European Parliament. Subsequently, just two years after entering the House of Commons, he was elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats.
In the 2010 parliamentary elections, in which no party won an absolute majority in the House of Commons, David Cameron's Conservative Party formed a coalition government with the Liberals, with Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister. Following the poor results achieved by the Liberals in the 2015 general election, he resigned as leader of his party and stepped down as Deputy Prime Minister.
Nick Clegg has a degree in Anthropology from Cambridge University. Today he is at the centre of the political dialogue in the United Kingdom as a radical opponent of Brexit. An eloquent essayist, he has just published a book entitled "Politics" in which he defends the centre against populism.
On 20 April 2017, Nick Clegg, former leader of the British Liberal Party and former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, gave a lecture at the Rafael del Pino Foundation on the challenges ahead for Britain and the European Union. Clegg pointed out that we live in a time of unprecedented political turbulence and volatility, in which the simple ideological landscape of the past has disappeared. It is no longer a world of debate between Conservatives and Labour, or about more or less market or more or less tax. This arena has been replaced by a much more complex one with many more actors. People feel insecure, they feel that the state has betrayed them, they are uncomfortable with globalisation and they want easy solutions. This poses a serious challenge to our political, economic and social system, which is under pressure both externally and internally. Externally, the existence of the European Union may be in question. The elections in France may be the beginning of the end of the EU as we know it. Moreover, in the United States there is an EU-unfriendly president who has called the transatlantic link into question. And in the midst of all this Putin is trying his best to subvert multilateral discipline. Internally, we suffer from a major economic and social crisis and there is a high level of frustration with the political system. Some of the causes are far-reaching, such as technological change, the Syrian refugee crisis or immigration. And then there is the economic crisis of 2007, without which we would not have had Trump, Brexit, ... We are still dealing with the economic, political and social shocks it brought with it. The EU will be able to overcome those challenges and will come out of them stronger, but we are now at a turning point and there are now three areas where action is urgently needed. First, the Eurozone project needs to be completed because a monetary union without a fiscal union is inherently unsustainable. Of course, the project implies a loss of sovereignty, but it is a question of political will. The second area is the migrant crisis. There is a major flaw in the way EU borders and immigration policy are managed: internal borders were abolished, but European controls on external borders were not put in place. Finally, there is security and defence policy. If the EU wants to have a presence in the world and to take on board the US withdrawal from Europe, it needs to assume its responsibility for defence and spend in a more coordinated way. All of this is essential in today's highly insecure times. Spain can play a big role in these matters if it embraces this and seeks to increase its influence, especially as the UK will not be leading. Spain's role can be enormous and our country is in a good position to do so: despite corruption, it enjoys a political stability that other countries lack; there are no extremists and not many populists; and the consensus in Spain is to maintain the European identity. Moreover, Spain has credibility for having undergone a tough post-crisis adjustment and is now a sustainable economy. And then there are its ties with Latin America. All this gives Spain a unique credibility and voice in the European Union and in its debates. With regard to the elections on 8 June, Clegg considered this to be an opportunistic call, especially because the current leader of the Labour Party is the least electable prime minister the party has had in a long time. Moreover, the gap between Brexit promises and reality is very large, which will create political problems for years to come. The question in this regard is what mandate Theresa May will get and who will oppose her within and outside the Conservative Party after 8 June. Because it should not be forgotten that 70% of young voters voted in the past for a very different future to the one they now have with Brexit, as well as the fact that there are MPs who retain their right to vote against Brexit.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for the comments, opinions or statements made by the people who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their sole responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio González, are the result of the debates held at the meeting held for this purpose at the Foundation and are the responsibility of the authors.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for any comments, opinions or statements made by third parties. In this respect, the FRP is not obliged to monitor the views expressed by such third parties who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their own responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio J. González, are the result of the discussions that took place during the conference organised for this purpose at the Foundation and are the sole responsibility of its authors.