Article 50 author warns of Brexit's 'disastrous consequences'
The author of the European Union's Article 50 has issued a call for Brexit to be halted, warning that its "disastrous consequences" are becoming clearer every day.
Lord Kerr of Kinlochard was among more than 60 prominent figures in Scotland who signed a joint letter warning that Brexit has seriously damaged the UK's international reputation and calling for a "UK-wide debate about calling a halt to the process".
The peer, who was Britain's permanent representative at the EU from 1990-95 before becoming ambassador to the US, has previously said that when he drafted Article 50 - which sets out the process for withdrawal from the EU - he thought it would only ever be used by a dictatorial regime, not by the UK.
The letter to the Herald newspaper, also signed by former Nato secretary general Lord Robertson, Scotland's former first minister Henry McLeish and Liberal Democrat ex-leader Lord (Menzies) Campbell, said: "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."
The letter continues: "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."
It concludes: "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."
Other signatories included SNP MEP Alyn Smith, former Tory MEP Struan Stevenson, Scotland's former chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns, historians Sir Tom Devine and Chris Smout and director of Friends of the Earth Scotland Dr Richard Dixon.
Mr McLeish told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that Brexit was "tearing Britain apart".
He said: "Enough is enough because we see Brexit taking us towards a catastrophe - there are no perceived benefits - and in the meantime we see negotiations in Brussels going nowhere, we see a Cabinet and Government at Westminster shambolically handling affairs.
"And one of the big issues for me is that, over the next two years, Parliament in London will face seven Bills about exiting the European Union. What happens then to housing? What happens then to climate change? What happens to the big issues that Britain faces?
"They'll be in the cupboard while we pursue this pointless distraction."
The former Labour first minister said it was "possible" that Parliament could overturn the Brexit vote, adding: "There will be a lot of opportunities over the next two years to derail and potentially reverse that decision."
He said he hoped for a change in the Labour Party's position following a general election he felt had demonstrated a shift in opinion.
"At the end of the day, I believe sincerely, as a passionate European, that this is a huge mistake, a national exercise in self-harm, a pointless distraction.
"I believe that view is shared by many of my colleagues but we now have to find a way of putting that into the public arena, having a much bigger, better debate, and as that happens I believe that the Tory Party will continue to be a shambles and of course these negotiations will go nowhere.
"This is about the future of Britain, this is a new battle for the future of Britain."