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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > September 2016 > The vacant centre ground

The vacant centre ground

Paddy Ashdown believes the Brexit vote emphasises the country’s fractures— his new movement is out to fix that

“Political parties are too small to be safely in charge of politics,” warned Paddy Ashdown in a bleak assessment of the challenges facing Britain following the vote to leave the European Union. After spending the referendum campaign relentlessly making the case to “Remain,” Ashdown felt crushed by Brexit, tweeting “God help our country” as the result became clear. This was the second time in just over a year that Ashdown, who led the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999, found himself on the wrong side of public opinion, with his party ejected from government and reduced to just eight MPs last May.

Ashdown, however, is refusing to give up. Last month he unveiled his blueprint for reshaping British politics in the form of a crowd-funded movement that would “give a voice to the millions of progressive, open-minded and tolerant people in the UK.” He hopes that this movement, called MoreUnited.uk, can inspire people in a way that parties, including his own, no longer can because they “have too small memberships and they tend to be very tribal.”

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In Prospect’s September issue: Paul Johnson argues that there is no getting away from the fact our economic prospects have got worse post-Brexit. Paul Wallace attempts to outline how the government will try and deal with that situation, while Nicolas Véron suggests that The City of London will decline outside the European Union. On a brighter note, Clive James explores what we can learn from the television show Mad Men. Also in this issue: Patience Wheatcroft, the Conservative peer, suggests that Brexit might not be a done deal with a rebellion in the Lords possible. Thomas Chatterton Williams explores the work and Beyoncé and argues that black artists are failing to say anything profound and James Dyson outlines how he would rule the world.
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