‘Halt Brexit’ appeal from north of the border

by Quentin Peel | 18.07.2017

Sixty-nine leading figures from Scottish society, including John Kerr, the former head of the Foreign Office who drafted Article 50, and George Robertson, former defence secretary, have called for a halt to the Brexit process.

The initiative challenges the view that a “soft Brexit” is an acceptable compromise, warning that “our society, economy and politics (are) becoming ever more undermined due to the impact of Brexit.”

While recognizing the outcome of the referendum, they argue that “in a democracy it is always possible to think again and to choose a different direction.”

The signatories come from across the political spectrum, described by the Herald newspaper as “a Who’s Who of Scotland’s intellectual elite”, including Henry McLeish, former Scottish first minister, Dame Anne Glover, vice-principal of Aberdeen university, and Helen Liddell, former secretary of state for Scotland.

Here is their letter in full:

We come from a broad range of sectors across our society – business, education, law, politics, public services, unions, NGOs and more.

We see our society, economy and politics becoming ever more undermined due to the impact of Brexit. We recognise that a narrow majority voted to leave the European Union, but the disastrous consequences are now becoming ever clearer – every day. Even before the UK has left the EU, we face falling living standards, rising inflation, slowing growth and lower productivity.

Our international reputation has been seriously damaged, leaving the UK weak, with diminished influence, in an increasingly uncertain and unstable world. EU citizens who have made a huge social and economic contribution to our society have been left in profound uncertainty – many have already left, many more are considering leaving. UK citizens elsewhere in the EU are in an unacceptable limbo too.

In a democracy, it is always possible to think again and to choose a different direction. We need to think again about Brexit, to have a UK-wide debate about calling a halt to the process and changing our minds. The UK has been a major and influential actor in Europe and can be again. We need to have a debate about how to build a better, fairer, more equal society. Then we will be in a position to contribute to an EU-wide debate on creating a fairer, more equal Europe.

We call for a national debate on Brexit. We ask our fellow citizens, and our politicians, to think again. It is time to call a halt to Brexit.

A petition seeking support for the initiative is also available here.


Prof. David Bell, Stirling Management School, University of Stirling

Andrew Bolger, former Scotland Correspondent, Financial Times,

Prof. Christina Boswell, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

Professor Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde

The Rt. Hon Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH CBE PC QC

Dr Chad Damro, University of Edinburgh

Professor Emeritus Sir Tom Devine, University of Edinburgh

Christine De Luca, poet

Dr Richard Dixon, Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland

Sir David Edward, Professor Emeritus Edinburgh University Law School and former ECJ Judge

John Edward, Former Head of European Parliament Office in Scotland/Former EU Policy Manager, Scotland Europa

Colin Imrie, European policy analyst

Maria Fletcher Director, Director of Scottish Universities Legal Network on Europe (SULNE)

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

Dr Peter Geoghegan, University of the West of Scotland,

Gwilym Gibbons   Creative Help Ltd

Professor Dame Anne Glover, Vice Principal for External Affairs and Dean for Europe, University of Aberdeen

Vanessa Glynn, Chair, European Movement in Scotland

David Gow, Editor, Sceptical Scot, Editor, Social Europe

Michele Gordon, Director, The Language Hub

Dr Eve Hepburn, Chief Executive, Fearless Femme CIC

David Hood, Director, Edinburgh Institute for Collaborative & Competitive Advantage

Dr Kirsty Hughes, Director, Scottish Centre on European Relations

Helen Hunter  Education Officer (retired)

Helen Kay M.A., M.Sc.

Stefan G Kay OBE

Patricia Kelly,  Retired Teacher

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard GCMG

Mark Lazarowicz, former Labour MP 2001 – 2015, Edinburgh North

Graham Leicester, International Futures Forum (in a personal capacity)

Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, former Secretary of State Scotland and former High Commissioner to Australia.

Dr John MacDonald,  Director of the Scottish Global Forum and editor of CABLE magazine

Gordon Macintyre-Kemp     Author and Chief Executive, Business for Scotland

Dame Mariot Leslie

David Martin, MEP

Monica Martins, Managing Director, WomenBeing Project

Marilyne MacLaren, retired politician and educationalist

Rt. Hon. Henry McLeish, former First Minister

Maggie Mellon, former executive board, Women for Independence and social work consultant

Professor Steve Murdoch, University of St Andrews

Isobel Murray, Professor Emeritus Modern Scottish Literature, Aberdeen University

Dr Kath Murray, Criminal Justice Researcher

Andrew Ormston, Director of Drew Wylie Projects

Alex Orr, Managing Director, Orbit Communications (in a personal capacity)

Robert Palmer       [email protected]

Ray Perman,    author and journalist

Willis Pickard, former editor TES Scotland and Rector, Aberdeen University,

Dr Janet Powney, consultant in education and evaluation research

Lesley Riddoch

Ian Ritchie, software entrepreneur

Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, former Secretary of State for Defence, former Secretary General, NATO

Bill Rodger, Treasurer, European Movement in Scotland

Anthony Salamone, Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser, Scottish Centre on European Relations

Prof. Andrew Scott, University of Edinburgh
Anne Scott, Secretary, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Scottish Branch

Peter K. Sellar Advocate, Axiom Advocates Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh,

Prof. Jo Shaw, University of Edinburgh

Dr Kirsteen Shields, Lecturer in Public Law, University of Dundee

Martin Sime, Chief Executive, SCVO

Alyn Smith, MEP

Grahame Smith, General Secretary STUC

Professor Michael E. Smith, Professor of International Relations, University of Aberdeen

Prof. Chris Smout, Historiographer Royal of Scotland and Emeritus Professor, University of St Andrews

Struan Stevenson, former MEP and European Movement in Scotland Vice-President

Bob Tait, philosopher and former Chair, Langstane Housing Association, Aberdeen

Lord (Jim) Wallace of Tankerness Lib Dem Peer & former Deputy First Minister

Sir Graham Watson, former President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE Party), former MEP

Dr Geoffrey Whittam, Reader, Glasgow Caledonian University

Fay Young, Director of a digital media company






Edited by Sam Ashworth-Hayes

One Response to “‘Halt Brexit’ appeal from north of the border”

  • What a wonderful and timely initiative. As every day we read of the colossal damage that Brexit will make to the UK in all fields, is it not now time for a similar initiative to be undertaken in England and Wales ? Both of the principal parties in the House of Commons seem at the moment incapable of acting to stop or even question the Brexit process. A similar initiative in England and Wales to the one now undertaken in Scotland could possibly help to generate a new momentum to reconsider Brexit and provide the justification for doing so which the House of Commons apparently desperately needs but is terrified of undertaking ” because the people have spoken “.