A former head of the Civil Service has backed the call for a people’s vote on Brexit as the only viable option after “disastrous” exit negotiations. Independent crossbencher Lord Kerslake said he had moved from being skeptical about holding a second referendum to joining last Saturday’s march in support of it.
He put his change of mind down to the “truly disastrous process of the negotiations”, insisting no-one could have conceived how badly they would go.
In a debate on the case for a people’s vote on the Brexit negotiations outcome, Lord Kerslake condemned the “series of grievous misjudgments” on the part of the Prime Minister and the Government.
“As a direct consequence of these misjudgments, we are now faced with some very unenviable choices,” he said. Those who expressed concerns over the Chequers proposals and said it was worse than the status quo had a point. “We will become a rule-taker and risk being perpetually on the wrong end of future EU trade negotiations.”
The economic and social risks of a no-deal Brexit were so immense they “cannot and should not be countenanced”.
Lord Kerslake said those “relaxed” about a no-deal Brexit were often “people of means, able to withstand the severe economic shock that will almost certainly follow”.
Parliament’s concern should be for the bulk of the population “for whom this is simply too big a risk to take”.
PM Theresa May could still secure a good deal and gain parliamentary support for it but the most likely outcome was a no-deal Brexit, which was not the answer.
Lord Kerslake warned of the “progressive loss of Britain’s standing and influence” since the referendum in an increasingly dangerous and uncertain world.
“Contrary to all the assurances at the time, the reality is of a diminished Britain and it’s there for all of us to see.” He said: “I’m aware of the challenges that holding a second referendum will bring but in the circumstances we now find ourselves it seems the only viable option.”