One of Britain’s senior former diplomats has backed the call for a Final Say referendum on the Brexit deal because he is convinced it would be the only viable way of breaking the deadlock in both domestic politics and negotiations with Brussels.
Sir William Patey, who served in some of the most dangerous postings in the diplomatic service as ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan, said the campaign for another vote was the logical step forward.
“We now have a situation where the country is deeply divided and we are at an impasse and decisive action needs to be taken,” he said. “A second referendum should take place and it should obviously take place before Friday 29 March when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.”
A petition launched by The Independent for a Final Say has gathered a quarter of a million signatures in less than 48 hours. Sir William continued: “It is obvious that there is huge concern among the public about the way that things are unfolding as is being shown by the reaction to the call for another vote.
“The fact is that the situation now is very different from present when the referendum took place. Many people now feel they were misled by the Leave side and they are seeing the reality of what is involved and they want to make their decision on the facts which have now become apparent.
“I voted to remain, but it would not be a question of being triumphalist if there is majority in the new referendum for Remain. It would not mean signing up to ‘an ever closer union’.
“Some of the concerns of the Brexiteers need to be addressed and we would have to negotiate hard with the EU and get some viable results – something that David Cameron failed to get.
“Issues such as immigration are obviously a source of worry to a lot of people and need to be tackled. But there are existing laws within the EU to do so and they can be used. The main thing is that people now need to be given another chance to make a choice.”
Sir William’s backing for the campaign follows support from senior figures from all the major parties, such as former Tory cabinet minister Justine Greening, ex-prime minister Tony Blair, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, Green leader Caroline Lucas and many others.
Former Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve, Labour’s Chuka Umunna, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, campaigner Gina Miller and ex-Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell have also pledged their backing.
The Independent kicked off its campaign for a Final Say on whatever Brexit terms emerge earlier this week.
Hundreds of thousands of people have already signed the petition calling for another national vote on Brexit.
Theresa May has urged voters not to worry about Brexit, despite her government setting out plans to stockpile food, blood and medicine in case it goes badly.
She said people should take “reassurance and comfort” from news of the plans, to be implemented if the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement in March.
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.