Lord Kerr, who played a central role in writing Article 50, has reiterated his view that Article 50 coud legally be withdrawn and that the people of the UK have the right to change their minds on Brexit. He was speaking at an event organised by St Albans for Europe, attended by Daisy Cooper St Albans Lib Dems Parliamentary spokesperson and a number of St Albans Lib Dems Councillors and members.
He also predicted that, as the realities and negative effects of Brexit on jobs and the NHS continue to emerge, an increase in the number of Conservative “rebels” and a stark shift in Labour’s position this autumn would lead to the UK being given a public vote on the Brexit deal the UK government negotiates with Brussels. Lord Kerr, speaking to 200 people in St Albans, said he felt there was a “1 in 3 chance” of Parliament giving the people the chance to have their say on the deal.
Lord Kerr said: “The autumn vote [in Parliament] on the EU Withdrawal Implementation Bill will be presented at the same time as the deal, or no deal, is presented and that is going to be when the meaningful votes take place. Parliament is unlikely to overturn the referendum without another referendum, but I now think there is quite a high chance that, by the autumn, there will be a majority in the House of Commons, saying; ‘Yes, we had better consult the people again, it hasn’t turned out exactly as the Leave campaign predicted and, in fact, it is very different and we had better go back and ask the people, is this what you had in mind?’ ”
Commenting further on the realities of Brexit and the new facts emerging since people voted, Lord Kerr said;
“The effect on jobs will be bad, the effect on the NHS will be very bad… as the tax-take goes down, because growth is not as great as it otherwise would have been, the money available for welfare and, in particular, the NHS, is going to drop.”
Referring to Boris Johnson’s recent interventions and push for the release of more funds for the NHS on the back of Brexit, Lord Kerr added; “Mr Johnson is not only not telling the truth, he is telling the reverse of the truth. If you want to save the NHS, you have to avoid Brexit.”
Previously-released figures have shown that around 10,000 EU nurses, doctors and support staff have already left the NHS since the UK’s 23 June 2016 vote to leave the EU.
He was joined by Daisy Cooper who added: "As Lord Kerr said, Brexit is an attack on the NHS. Nearly 10,000 EU health workers have left the UK since the Brexit vote - a 22% increase on the year before. As NHS procurement contracts come up for renewal, the falling value of the pound means that there will be less money available to buy vital medicines. Our NHS is in a state of crisis and Brexit is making it much, much worse. Patients and their families will suffer."
Lord Kerr was speaking at an open meeting on Wednesday 24 January about Brexit, the current state of the Parliamentary process surrounding it and likely outcomes. The talk and Q&A session were organised by St Albans for Europe (StAfE), a local grassroots, cross-party, pro-European campaign group. The event was also attended by several Leave voters who were concerned about the direction of Brexit and interested in listening to the alternatives.