Hard Brexit 'a mistake like appeasing Hitler'
14 July 2017 Political News
A senior Government adviser has caused controversy after comparing a so-called “hard” Brexit to British appeasement of Adolf Hitler before the Second World War.
Lord Adonis, chair of the Government’s National Infrastructure Commission, also compared leaving the European Union single market and customs union to the end of the British Empire.
The remarks provoked calls for him to be sacked, but a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will not be removing Lord Adonis from his post.
And the Labour peer has told Sky News he stands by the comments and does not regret making them.
In the interview he said the UK is in “serious danger” of getting Brexit wrong and warned the country faces a steep decline in living standards compared with France and Germany unless the country can “have our cake and eat it”.
Lord Adonis told the House magazine: “My language is usually pretty subdued in politics.
“But anyone with a historical sense – and I’m a historian – recognises that leaving the economic institutions of the European Union, which have guided our destiny as a trading nation for half a century, is a very big step and the importance can’t be overemphasised.
“To my mind, it’s as big a step that we’re taking as a country as decolonisation in the 1950s and 60s and appeasement in the 1930s.
“We got it right on decolonisation; we got it wrong on appeasement and I think we’re in serious danger of getting it wrong in the way that we leave the EU.
“If we can’t have our cake and eat it then we face a serious relative decline in our living standards compared with France and Germany and I don’t believe the British people will put up with that.”
Lord Adonis’ comments have sparked calls from Brexit-supporting Conservative MPs for him to be sacked.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith told The Sun: “I am astonished and appalled that someone who considers himself to be intelligent should have selected such a comparison given all the appalling violence and death that Hitler visited on Europe and the rest of the world.
“I find his comments deeply offensive, as I believe most of the British people will too.”
Another Tory MP, Peter Bone, told the newspaper: “He should be fired.”
Backbencher Andrew Bridgen said: “Of course he should be removed from any advisory role to government. He doesn’t really believe in democracy – just like Hitler.”
But a Government spokeswoman has said Mrs May will not sack Lord Adonis.
She said: “He is not a member of the Government. He is not a Conservative peer. His job is to provide independent advice to Government on infrastructure, that doesn’t have anything to do with the views he expressed on Brexit.
“She completely disagrees with those views.
“His views on Brexit have no bearing on the position that he holds. It is down to him to explain his views.”