The Archbishop of York has become the latest high-profile public figure to back calls for a cross-party commission to oversee the Government’s Brexit negotiations.
Dr John Sentamu joins senior political figures like Ken Clarke, William Hague, Nick Clegg and Peter Mandelson in calling for a new approach after Theresa May lost her Commons majority in a snap election.
He made the call in a House of Lords debate on the Queen’s Speech as the Government and European Union try to reach an early agreement on the residency rights of EU nationals already living here.
“The challenge now is to negotiate a Brexit for the common good,” said the Archbishop.
“How do we make Britain’s departure from the EU a good news story for the poor, the unemployed and those whose wages and living standards have been falling? This is no easy task.”
Noting the growing split between Brexit Secretary David Davis and Chancellor Philip Hammond, with the latter now favouring a longer transitional period for businesses if Britian does leave the single market and customs union, he added: “I humbly encourage the Government to take a broad and opened minded attitude to this matter.
“We need however to recalibrate expectations that a new relationship with the EU can be negotiated by March 2019. Most experts hold that it is unlikely to be completed and ratified this side of 2025.
“This is where we need a cross party commission - maybe even a Royal Commission, akin to the Privy Council - to look creatively at possible options and to offer impartial but honest advice to the Government on the best transitionary and final arrangements.
“I’m certainly not looking for a place on any such body, but maybe the Government would be wise to look at keeping the UK in the single market and the customs union until the end of the transitional period when any new relationship with the EU comes into force.”