A vote to leave the European Union would trigger a fresh referendum on Scottish independence and risk tearing the UK apart, Nick Clegg will warn today.
The former deputy prime minister will return to frontline politics with a speech at the Liberal Democrat conference to warn that a vote in favour of could lead to the break-up of the union.
He will also urge Labour to wholeheartedly campaign for the UK to remain in the EU after the confusion of Jeremy Corbyn’s first few days in power.
Mr Clegg, who quit as party leader following the electoral mauling in May which saw the Lib Dems lose all but eight of their seats, will return to the conference stage in Bournemouth.
Tim Farron is preparing to launch the Lib Dem campaign to remain in the EU ahead of the vote promised by David Cameron by the end of 2017.
Mr Clegg will say: “The stakes could not be higher: not just one, but two, unions now hang in the balance.
“If we vote to leave the EU, I have no doubt that the SNP will gleefully grab the opportunity to persuade the people of Scotland to leave the UK as well.”
That would leave a “once great country now pulled apart”, creating a “Little England” left isolated and lacking international influence.
“I have no doubt that David Cameron’s referendum will be contested on the issue of jobs, economic security, the terms of any renegotiation and so on,” Mr Clegg will say.
The SNP have said that an EU exit, if Scotland votes to stay in, would trigger a second referendum.