The Brexit settlement is unstable – a problem that can be resolved only by taking a step towards a closer relationship between the UK and the EU, said Andrew Adonis at an Independent event last night to mark the fifth anniversary of the referendum. Lord Adonis, the Labour former cabinet minister, and David Gauke, the former Conservative cabinet minister, both argued that a Swiss-style agreement on common UK and EU food safety rules was the way to solve the Northern Ireland border crisis.
The panel, chaired by John Rentoul, The Independent’s chief political commentator, Kate Devlin, our Whitehall editor, and Andrew Grice, our political columnist, covered the referendum, its consequences and the future. You can watch the discussion here.
Watch the full event in the video below
Mr Gauke thought a referendum was inevitable at some time, while Lord Adonis took the view that it was the product of weakness on the part of David Cameron. They agreed that Theresa May took a wrong turning early on in her premiership by defining Brexit as its hardest form, which made it hard to compromise thereafter.
They both agreed that Lord Adonis, as chair of the European Movement, should act as a mirror image of Nigel Farage, who led Ukip as a force outside the main parties to put pressure on them to change.
And they both offered withering assessments of the two main parties. Mr Gauke said he did not believe that Boris Johnson would soon step down to “make money and have fun”, as Dominic Cummings, his former chief adviser, had suggested. “I think he is in for the long haul,” said Mr Gauke, predicting that the Conservative Party would remain successful as a populist right-wing Eurosceptic party for the foreseeable future.
Lord Adonis, meanwhile, predicted that “change is not long in coming” in the Labour Party, expecting that Keir Starmer would not survive as leader. “There is a limit to the amount of failure the Labour Party can take,” he said.
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