Theresa May rejects calls to sack Lord Adonis as government adviser over Hitler comments
Theresa May has rejected calls for a former Labour minister to be sacked as a government adviser after he warned Brexit could be the biggest mistake since the appeasement of Adolf Hitler.
Lord Adonis, who is chair of the national infrastructure commission, has come in for severe criticism from Tory MPs since making the comments in an interview for The House magazine.
He said: “To my mind, it’s as big a step that we’re taking as a country as decolonisation in the 1950s and 60s and appeasement in the 1930s. We got it right on decolonisation; we got it wrong on appeasement and I think we’re in serious danger of getting it wrong in the way that we leave the EU.”
The former crossbench peer – who re-took the Labour whip recently so he could speak out on his opposition to Brexit – insisted on Radio Four's Today programme this morning that leaving the EU’s single market and customs union would “impoverish millions”.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith led the backlash against Lord Adonis, telling The Sun: “I am astonished and appalled that someone who considers himself to be intelligent should have selected such a comparison given all the appalling violence and death that Hitler visited on Europe and the rest of the world. I find his comments deeply offensive, as I believe most of the British people will too.”
Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, said: “Of course he should be removed from any advisory role to government. He doesn’t really believe in democracy – just like Hitler.”
Wellingborough MP Peter Bone said: “He should be fired.”
But a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister insisted his paid role as chair of the infrastructure commission – which he was given by then Chancellor George Osborne in 2015 – was not under threat.
She said: “Andrew Adonis is not a member of the Government. It's for him to explain his remarks, but the Prime Minister disagrees with him.
“He's not a Conservative peer, his job is to provide independent advice to the Government on infrastructure.”
Lord Adonis was Transport Secretary under Gordon Brown and also served on Tony Blair's frontbench.