Ex-Whitehall boss and Labour adviser Lord Kerslake backs second Brexit referendum

Posted On: 
8th November 2018

A senior peer and adviser to Jeremy Corbyn has thrown his full weight behind calls for a second referendum on Brexit.

Pro-referendum campaigners march through central London.
PA Images

Former civil service chief Lord Kerslake said a fresh vote would avoid the potential “catastrophe” of a no-deal Brexit.

Labour leader Mr Corbyn has resisted calls for a referendum on the final Brexit deal Theresa May comes back with from Brussels, insisting that a general election should take place instead.

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But Lord Kerslake told Business Insider: “I've changed my view and now back a second referendum.”

He said a “combination of poor negotiations and poor choices have left us in an unenviable place, and that's why we've got to re-open this question, even at this late stage”.

He added that the ballot paper for another referendum should not include the option of crashing out of the bloc without a deal - a prospect he branded “not tenable”.

“Pursuing a no-deal Brexit, or even contemplating it when you know the damage it could do to ordinary people is frankly irresponsible,” he argued.

“We shouldn't really consider it as an option, because its consequences are so enormous... The economic shock would be very significant.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament last night became the first legislature in the UK to vote for a second referendum. Significantly, however, all but two Labour MSPs abstained.


Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will today insist the UK and France will remain "tied by the bonds of friendship" after Brexit - despite tensions between the nations during the talks.

French president Emmanuel Macron was reportedly determined to take a tough line with the UK in the negotiations and said the leaders of the Brexit campaign were "liars".

But at a speech in Paris Mr Hunt will champion the UK-French relationship as "one of competition, co-operation, similarity and difference".

It comes as an Anglo-French task force warned that co-operation on cyber security and counter-terrorism could be put at risk if the UK quits without a deal.


Elsewhere, Dominic Raab revealed plans for a post-Brexit “youth mobility scheme” to allow young people to cross the Channel easily for travel and work.

The Brexit Secretary told a Tech UK summit he wanted 18 to 30-year-olds to “take advantage of not just the fun that can be had by travelling around, but also the work opportunities”.