Nick Drew has previously described the EU as a priesthood. Well the high priests have been out in force trying to convince the Great British Public that they have made a terrible mistake.
Of course, priests have a long history of not wanting people to call their bluff. But here in contemporary secular Europe we like to think we are more scientific, more pragmatic, more democratic. You might like to think that the the elite of Europe simply want what's best for British voters despite British voters' record. Then their warnings of a Britain worse off outside than inside could be seen as helpful, neutral advice. However, that is not how it comes across. These messages are threats: do trade deals with non-EU countries and you'll get a worse deal from us.
But why would they mind if we did? After all, if membership the EU is so beneficial to its members, then its leaders should be confident that the UK will indeed be worse off outside - without any further intervention from them. Why should the Maltese government, for example, be concerned if Britain tries to sign a trade agreement with Australia if Malta already has the best possible relationship with Australia and its nearer neighbours? How might such an agreement negatively affect Malta?
If Nick Clegg is right that it is “economically illiterate” to think there is some kind of trade panacea waiting for the UK outside the EU then all he has to do is sit back and watch Brexit turn to disaster, then campaign (and presumably win) to re-join the EU.
One wonders what they are afraid of.