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Lord Adonis calls for 'sane Brexit'

NIC chair Lord Adonis

National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chair Lord Adonis has called for a “sane Brexit” to safeguard nuclear safety and research.

Writing in the London Evening Standard newspaper yesterday (Monday) in his capacity as a former Labour cabinet minister, Lord Adonis stressed the need for cross-party MPs to secure an interim deal keeping the UK inside the single market and the customs union.

He argued that an interim agreement is crucial to avoid complex negotiations, are due to start next week and will finish in March 2019, having a negative impact on trade and national institutions.

“It is not only tariff and trade regulations which are at stake but also the regime for dozens of vital national activities, from air travel to nuclear safety and research,” he wrote.

Lord Adonis also claimed Britain could be allowed to restrict freedom of movement while remaining members of the single market, arguing the new French government does not see free movement as indispensable in a break with the EU’s official position.

He said migration could be restricted to give opportunities to low-skilled young people if controls were accompanied by reforms to technical education, improving skills among young workers.

“In respect of a ‘sane Brexit’, two initiatives are imperative. Parliament should indicate immediately, by means of a resolution of the House of Commons, our desire to stay in the single market and customs union until a Brexit treaty is agreed. And President Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel — after the German election — should indicate a willingness for British immigration policy to become the responsibility of parliament while maintaining membership of the single market in other respects,” he wrote.

“We are at a moment of national crisis, with echoes of the Thirties. Wise statesmanship is the only way to make Britain truly strong and stable.”

Lord Adonis has been chair of the NIC since 2015 and was transport secretary from 2009 to 2010.

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