Secret summit to discuss 'why Brexit is not delivering' attended by Michael Gove and Labour frontbenchers

11 February 2023, 20:26

Michael Gove attended the secret summit chaired by Lord Mandelson
Michael Gove attended the secret summit chaired by Lord Mandelson. Picture: Alamy

By Adam Solomons

Pro-Brexit and Remainer politicians from both main parties attended a secret summit to explore why Brexit has 'failed'.

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Big names present at stately home Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire on Thursday and Friday last week included Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove and Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy.

The pro-Brexit side was represented by the likes of ex-Tory leader Michael Howard and Vote Leave chair Gisela Stuart, while prominent Remainers included Lammy, Labour grandee Lord Mandelson and ex-Theresa May ally David Lidington, The Observer reported.

One person who attended told the newspaper: “The main thrust of it was that Britain is losing out, that Brexit it not delivering, our economy is in a weak position.

“It was about moving on from leave and remain, and what are the issues we now have to face, and how can we get into the best position in order to have a conversation with the EU about changes to the UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement when that happens?”

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Lord Mandelson chaired the two-day event
Lord Mandelson chaired the two-day event. Picture: Getty

Gove led the Vote Leave campaign in favour of Brexit alongside Stuart and Boris Johnson.

Two days of private discussions took place under the title “How can we make Brexit work better with our neighbours in Europe?”

Attendees from the private sector included pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline's chair John Symonds, ex-Brexit negotiator and Goldman Sachs managing director Oliver Robbins, and ex-Treasury permanent secretary Tom Scholar.

A secret introduction statement stated that “some at least, [believe] that so far the UK has not yet found its way forward outside the EU”, with Brexit “acting as a drag on our growth and inhibiting the UK’s potential”.

The secret summit took place at Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire
The secret summit took place at Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire. Picture: Alamy

Keir Starmer has stated that Labour will not bring Britain back into the single market, customs union or EU.

Crunch talks between Westminster and Brussels on the contentious Northern Ireland protocol are set to take place in the coming weeks.

The controversial clause in the Brexit agreement centres around Northern Ireland's status within the customs union, despite the rest of the UK leaving.

Andrew Marr has called solving the protocol the biggest challenge Rishi Sunak faces as PM.

Caller thinks Brexit opened the floodgates for people to air anti-immigration views