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Brexit: People’s Vote - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:20 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Photo of Lord Sugar Lord Sugar Non-affiliated 12:20 pm, 25th October 2018

A people’s vote on the outcome of the negotiations of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU sounds like, “I don’t like the outcome of the original vote, so I’d like another bite of the cherry to see whether it can be reversed”. The result in June 2016, albeit by a small margin, was a decision to leave. It is my understanding that there is no turning back on a referendum. It would be a complete farce if you could have another crack of the whip. However, there is a good argument to void that vote, if it can be concluded that the public were totally misled. It is my belief that a large section of the British public were misled in forming their decision to vote to leave.

I have been the chair and major shareholder of public companies. As a board, we were obliged, when sending out a prospectus to shareholders and the public, to have all comments and forecast made by us scrutinised line by line by auditors and lawyers in a very tough due diligence and verification process. No such process exists for the claims politicians make to convince the public—who, by the way, rely on and trust them—to place their vote. In some cases, misleading shareholders has resulted in prosecution and imprisonment. Applying the public company principle, it would follow that those people who will be responsible for putting this country into five to 10 years of post-Brexit turmoil based on lies—such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove for the £350 million lie on the red bus—should be imprisoned, or at least prosecuted.

On the eve of the Brexit vote, on 22 June 2016, I was invited by David Cameron to take the lead for the remain camp in “The Great Debate”, which took place on the BBC. To this day, I kick myself for turning it down. At the time, I felt that I was not qualified enough to stand up and discuss the various intricacies of leaving or remaining in the EU. Instead, the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, took my position. He did the best he possibly could.