Ex-chairman of Lloyd’s of London’s devastating letter on Brexit

PUBLISHED: 11:01 25 July 2018 | UPDATED: 19:27 25 July 2018

John Nelson's devastating letter (Lionel Barner/@lionelbarber)

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A former chairman of Lloyd's of London has written a letter tearing apart Brexiteer arguments and calling for "terrified" businesses and MPs to speak up.

John Nelson, who was chairman of the insurance market from 2011 to last year said: "Never in 50 years of working life have I seen the UK facing such an abject future, caused by the complete failure of our political establishment to govern, to communicate clearly with the public and, most importantly, to be honest with the electorate.

"We have many senior politicians who are seemingly consumer with their own ambition and vanity, with little regard for the best interests of the country."

Mr Nelson went on that either of the two options apparently now on the table - Theresa May's much-criticised Chequers deal or crashing out of the EU without a deal - "are both going to result in the UK becoming a much poorer and less influential country than anybody was led to believe during the appallingly conducted referendum campaign".

Apart from the effect on the manufacturing industry and service sector, Mr Nelson said, there would be disruption to the provision of basic public services such as agriculture, healthcare and transport.

"We are constantly told by the Brexiters it will all be fine," he said.

"We will keep our sovereignty and we will be able to negotiate our own trade deals with ease. This is fanciful.

"Personal experience tells me that negotiating rights is a long and painful process. If we are trying to do it as a small economy, the leverage we have is limited and far less than operating as a trade bloc, which is the EU.

"We would lose all the EU trading rights with third countries."

Mr Nelson said he agreed with many of the warning comments made in recent weeks by business leaders but noted that almost all came from overseas businesses.

"It is high time that UK business spoke up and galvanised the public to understand the true realities of what the country is facing," he said.

"There also appears to be a silent majority of MPs from each of the major parties who seem terrified of putting their head above the parapet.

"They need to co-operate, or even coalesce, to provide the public with sensible government. The case for remaining in the EU has drawbacks, but overall the benefits in terms of trade, security and fellowship overwhelm the narrow shortsighted nationalism espoused by those who wish to return to the Edwardian age."

Mr Nelson acknowledged that "of course" there would have to be a second referendum in order to remain.

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