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10 November 2016updated 12 Oct 2023 10:13am

Nick Clegg: France “may be next to fall” after Donald Trump and Brexit

The former Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader warned of more political eruptions to come.

By Julia Rampen

Donald Trump “won’t be the last” far-right politician to capture power in a surprise upset, Nick Clegg has warned. 

After Trump’s surprise win over Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election, the former Liberal Democrat leader and deputy leader said “all eyes turn to France”, and Marine Le Pen, the President of Front National.

If she won the French presidential elections in 2017, he said, the future of the European Union could be at stake. 

He told The Staggers: “I don’t think this will be the last eruption of anger and discontent against the status quo”.

The Remain campaigner forecast more trouble for the EU ahead. 

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He said: “If the next pin to fall were to be France, and if Marine Le Pen who hails from a fascist French tradition were to become the next President of France, this conflagration of populism would threaten the existence of the EU.”

Le Pen, whose father also led the Front National, has modernised the party and toned down some of its public excesses. By doing so, she has already made it a formidable regional party player. 

Alain Juppé, a centre-right veteran of French politics, is widely seen as the best person to see off Le Pen

Clegg held back from predicting the outcome, but noted there were “uncanny similarities” between Brexit and Donald Trump’s election.

In France, he suggested, there was also the chance of an electoral upset: “Again, we will have a contest between an insider’s insider, and an outsider.”

Clegg, who worked with the Tories in the Coalition government, said Brexiteers were celebrating Trump’s victory, and would also welcome a Le Pen victory.

He said: “The most veteran Brexiteers, their ambition isn’t just to pull the UK out, but to destroy the EU itself.”

Constituency matters

Clegg appears in a Channel 5 documentary later this month focusing on constituency work. The MP for Sheffield Hallam said he “jumped at the chance” to participate. 

“I think much of our political system is pretty rotten,” he said, “but the one feature that sets us apart is the thing we see the least of, but which is actually the focus of a lot of attention among MPs – the work of helping our constituents.”

On Brexit, Clegg said that MPs had a duty to constituents, whichever side they had backed, to get the best deal for the UK.

He said MPs should note feel “bound by lies” that he said the Leave campaign had promoted, and criticised Labour for inconsistently opposing Brexit. 

Agreeing to trigger Article 50 before knowing what to ask for was, he argued, like “firing the starting gun of a race without even knowing what the direction is”. 

MPs: Behind Closed Doors starts on 28 November 2016 on Channel 5.

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