Tom Watson joins calls for Chilcot-style public probe into handling of Brexit

Posted On: 
24th March 2019

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has thrown his weight behind calls for a full-scale public inquiry into the handling of Brexit.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson
Credit: 
PA Images

The Shadow Cabinet big-hitter said Britain would need a “detailed postmortem” about how the Government had made a “shambles” of the Brexit process.

He made the comments as parliament remained deadlocked over a way forward on the UK's departure from the EU.

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Theresa May this week clinched a last-minute Brexit delay to stop the country hurtling off the cliff-edge of a no-deal withdrawal next weekend.

But there appears no end in sight to the mammoth task, with a Cabinet coup said to be underway to replace the PM and the nation as divided as ever on the Brexit question.

Mr Watson joined former civil service chiefs in calling for a probe about the Brexit process similar to the Chilcot inquiry into the controversial Iraq war.

He told the Observer: “The government’s handling of Brexit has been a shambles from start to finish.

“It was a dereliction of duty to allow the country to get to this point, days before Brexit, in danger of crashing out with no deal or trying to force parliament to accept a deal it’s already rejected twice.

“We will certainly need a detailed postmortem of how this all came to pass.”

'CHILCOT WAS CATHARTIC'

Bob Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, said: “We do need to understand how on earth we ended up where we have and it probably needs to go back to the decisions around holding a referendum and the way the question was framed.”

He added: “It would need to be a public inquiry, probably judge-led.”

And Peter Ricketts, the former national security adviser, noted: “Chilcot took a long time, but it was cathartic.”

He added: “I think the handling of Brexit has been such a failure of the process of government, with such wide ramifications, that there needs to be a searching public inquiry.”

Mr Watson joined the calls as he took part in a mass march in London calling for Brexit to be stopped.

Organisers said more than one million people attended the rally, including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, London mayor Sadiq Khan and Independent Group MP Chuka Umunna.