British public will get 'second chance' on Brexit, new Remain campaign chief says

'I think people are changing their minds,' says former diplomat Lord Malloch-Brown

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 09 January 2018 15:51
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A senior diplomat charged with spearheading pro-Remain efforts has said that the public will get a “second chance” to look at Brexit.

Lord Malloch-Brown, a former UN deputy secretary general, said he was “unashamed” to declare that he wanted to reverse the decision to leave European Union and insisted that voters were already beginning to change their minds on the result.

In one of the first interviews since he began efforts to coordinate opposition to Brexit, the Labour former Foreign Office minister said people has started to realise they had been “seriously mis-sold” on the reality of the divorce proceedings.

It comes after a series of interventions on Brexit from senior politicians, including Tory peer Lord Heseltine – who said Brexit would be more damaging than a Jeremy Corbyn government – and Tony Blair, who urged Labour to abandon its confusing” and “mistaken” stance on Brexit or risk losing voters.

Lord Malloch-Brown is leading efforts to coordinate opposition to Brexit from a number of different groups, including campaigners Open Britain and the grassroots group Best for Britain, with the hope of changing public opinion before the final Brexit deal is decided.

Pro-EU campaigners hopes to capitalise on efforts by Conservative rebels to secure a “meaningful vote” for MPs on the terms of the Brexit deal, which came when the Government was defeated on an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill before Christmas.

Lord Malloch Brown, a former diplomat, heading up pro-Remain efforts (Getty)

Lord Malloch-Brown told BBC’s Daily Politics: “I think people are changing their minds… I agree they haven’t changed it as dramatically as I would like to see.

“But it is moving because there is a deterioration in the economic situation.

“I think people are beginning to understand they were seriously mis-sold in the original referendum, and the guys who fought for Stronger In didn’t mount as effective an argument as they should.”

It has become a “political suicide note” to admit liking Britain’s European neighbours, he said, although many people secretly do admire their counterparts on the continent.

Asked if Brexit could be stopped, Lord Malloch-Brown said: “Yes, there is a meaningful vote in October.

“A defeat of the Government on that will lead, I think, to either a second referendum, or an election, or some way of having a second chance on this.”

However, he was warned by Labour former trade minister Digby Jones that he could be seen as acting as ”a tyrant” to the people if he tried to overturn the vote.

The ex-CBI chief said: “You don’t want to put Parliament into the position of acting as the tyrant to the people, and the people asked for something.

“I think what they really asked for deep down was they didn’t want to be told what to do by Berlin and Brussels.

“Be careful for what you might just wish for, because if you got it I think Parliament would be a very difficult position with the people of the nation.”

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