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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > December 2017 > Books in brief

Books in brief

How to Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again)

by Nick Clegg (Bodley Head, £8.99)

Never let it be said that centrist politicians lack passion. Nick Clegg oozes it on every page, making his book, for the most part, a cracking good read—although his pops at assorted Brexit funders and newspaper owners smack more of settling scores than making his case.

What of the substance? Despite its title, this is not a book about stopping Brexit but about altering its end point. Clegg starts from the assumption that the EU is about to significantly reform, creating an opportunity for Britain’s relationship with its partners to be redefined. But the notion that the EU is in any position to make treaty changes, further integrating its core while engineering a “concentric circles” model for semi-detached neighbours is for the birds.

Indeed the biggest problem is that Clegg doesn’t want to reverse Brexit. As he puts it, “the people who voted ‘Leave’ cannot be ignored.” Rather, he wants people to persuade MPs to vote against a Brexit deal next autumn. This, he argues, will give us a chance to negotiate a new deal, one that sees us become “neither a core member of the EU, nor stuck on the outside, looking in.”

This raises two questions. First, why would the EU want to give us such a deal? If one thing has been clear from the Brexit debate to date, it is that states are adamant that non-membership should be inferior to membership. Why would they reward us by creating a special kind of “almost membership” for us? Particularly as Clegg seems to think a review of free movement would be on the table too. Having one’s cake and eating it comes to mind.

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In Prospect’s December issue: Adam Posen, Diane Coyle and Nicolas Véron examine the state of Britain’s economy with Brexit looming and suggest that with a large part of the City looking to move and with productivity remaining low the outlook is firmly negative. Posen suggests that the only thing capable of disciplining the Brexit economy is the reality that things are going to be worse. Coyle suggest that although Brexit will hamper Britain’s productivity, the problem is long-term. Véron argues that more than a tenth of the City’s business will disappear due to Brexit—a significant slice that will be difficult to cover off. Elsewhere in the issue: Steve Bloomfield uncovers what is going on at Dfid, the struggling government department that recently lost its Secretary of State. Nick Cohen looks at the rise of the Strong Man is Eastern Europe as Viktor Orbán clamps down on society and Lizzie Porter reports from Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, a region plagued by war and political instability.