On 23rd June 2016 the British people voted by a narrow margin in a non-binding referendum to advise that the UK should leave the European Union. On 28th March this year I gave effect to this advice and triggered Article 50 to commence negotiations with the EU on withdrawal.

The British Government has at all times to act in the interests of our people. Some decisions made will be popular – others not. The decision in respect of EU withdrawal is uniquely divisive – as the narrow EU Referendum vote showed. Since then it is clear that many who voted “Leave” have changed their minds in response to events since June last year.

The campaigns prior to the EU Referendum were at times strident and it is now clear less than wholly honest with the electorate. In particular statements were made and promises offered by the “Leave” campaign which were untruthful and misleading. There is clear evidence that on such matters as Freedom of Movement there was a clear intention on the part of some “Leave” campaigners to scare the public with falsehoods and misinformation.

The vote of 23rd June happened and it cannot be undone and it must be respected. But there is sufficient evidence to make the Government argue for further examination of the facts pertaining to the UK’s membership so that the public can be better informed. Accordingly I have agreed with the leadership of the European Union that negotiations will be suspended immediately for a period of two years during which the UK will be a full and active member of the Union. Over this period a Royal Commission will study all aspects of the UK’s membership of the European Union and make recommendations to Government.

I appreciate that this decision will disappoint many who fervently believe that Britain is better off out of the EU. However I hope that they will accept that for this to happen there has to be  a far greater “buy in” than is present across our country at present.

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