Peter Mandelson offers to help government with Brexit negotiations
Peter Mandelson has offered to serve on any cross-party commission to advise on Brexit – and backed former prime minister Sir John Major to chair the group.
The former EU commissioner urged the Government to reach out across party lines to find a “consensus British position” on its aims for the negotiations with Brussels, which start today.
One idea which has been floated is establishing a commission to bring together different parts of the political spectrum in the talks.
It has been proposed by, among others, William Hague, Nicola Sturgeon and former Labour minister Andrew Adonis – who put forward Sir John as a potential candidate to lead such a body.
Labour peer Lord Mandelson, who was a prominent advocate of remaining in the EU, gave his backing to the idea of a commission – and said he would be happy to take a position on it.
“I think it’s a good idea to broaden [ideas] as much as we can [to establish] a consensus British position,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
“John Major would be great and anything I could do to help him or anyone else in this process I would do because I want the best outcome for the country.”
Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said a cross-party working group was a “great idea”.
Mr Clegg told Radio 4: “I certainly agree with anything that brings all the talents from different parties together from inside and outside government because at the moment we have a rudderless government and a government without a strategy and fast running out of time. It needs all the help it can get.”
Brexit Secretary David Davis is in Brussels today to kick off the formal negotiations on the UK’s departure from the EU – almost three months after Theresa May triggered Article 50.
Mr Davis said he wanted to secure a “deal like no other in history”.
Talks will initially cover the mutual rights of EU and UK citizens living abroad, the border in Ireland, and Britain’s “divorce bill”.
Lord Mandelson said Mr Davis should make a generous offer on those issues in order to buy goodwill for the second phase of negotiations, which will look at Britain’s future relationship with the bloc.
The former business secretary said: “The Government, David Davis should basically take everyone by surprise. I think they should make bold offers on money, on EU nationals and the Irish border and then bargain hard on the basis of those offers so that they can get onto phase two as successfully and as quickly as possible because that’s where the meat of the negotiation is. That’s where our future trade, our future prosperity lies.
“And in that phase they have a number of options available to them – all of which at the moment they’re excluding because they’re going for their sort of hard Brexit – but options which do exist which in my view would put the economy first and would deliver a pragmatic, middle-ground outcome.”