LONDON — The author of Article 50 has signed an open letter calling for Brexit to be stopped.
Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, a former chief British diplomat who drafted Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in 2003, is among a number of high-profile Scots who have signed a letter urging the UK government to halt Brexit and consider keeping Britain in the European Union.
The letter warns that the “disastrous consequences” of Britain exiting the EU are “becoming ever clearer” and calls for a nationwide debate on whether the decision to leave should be reversed.
“In a democracy, it is always possible to think again and to choose a different direction. We need to think again about Brexit, to have a UK-wide debate about calling a halt to the process and changing our minds,” the letter says.
“We recognise that a narrow majority voted to leave the European Union, but the disastrous consequences are now becoming ever clearer — every day,” it adds. The letter has also been signed by former defence secretary George Robertson and IT entrepreneur Ian Ritchie.
Lord Kerr has previously suggested that the Article 50 process could be reversed if the UK government changes its mind, despite Prime Minister Theresa May’s government receiving legal advice that the mechanism is irrevocable.
“During that [two-year] period, if a country were to decide actually we don’t want to leave after all, everybody would be very cross about it being a waste of time … They might try to extract a political price but legally they couldn’t insist that you leave,” he told the BBC in November.
The former diplomat has also offered scathing assessments of how May’s government had handled Britain’s divorce from the 28-nation bloc. In November, he told an event attended by BI that ministers had abandoned “evidence-based policy” in the pursuit of political decisions driven by emotions and feeling.
“For governments, it would be good to get back evidence-based policy,” Kerr said.
“But in this country that’s very difficult at the moment as Whitehall is charged with delivering a policy (Brexit) it doesn’t actually believe in — and the evidence suggests it is right not to believe in.
“I can’t think of an example like Brexit where the government was working to a single aim that so few people in government actually believe in.”
He added that Britain needs high-levels of immigration because British people are too “stupid” to cope without the help of migrants. “Supposing we did stop all immigration from the EU, we still wouldn’t meet the off-the-cuff 100,000 net target David Cameron set as prime minister,” he said. “We native Brits are so bloody stupid that we need injections of intelligence. Immigration is what keeps this country running. Evidence-based policy, please.”
Support for a second referendum is surging
Lord Kerr’s latest remarks come as opinion polls show public support for another referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is gradually on the rise.
41% of the British public now support holding another referendum, up from 31% at the end of last year, new data published by Opinium this week revealed. 48% were still opposed.
Separate recent polling on whether there should be a vote on whether to accept the final Brexit deal with the EU finds a majority supports a second vote.
A poll by Survation found that 53% of people would back a second referendum on whether to accept the terms of the final Brexit deal, with 47% opposed.