At a People’s Vote event today, Lord Bob Kerslake said that the senior civil servants will speak out about Brexit by the end of February.

First published in February 2019.

• Former head of the civil service Lord Bob Kerslake called for a second EU referendum today.
• Lord Kerslake was Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) from November 2010 to March 2015 and Head of the Civil Service from January 2012 to September 2014.
“Where else do we go? A huge amount of quite unnecessary fear is being created among the public... The government can stop this now,” he told BBC Radio 4.
• Lord Kerslake also helped launch a new report by the People’s Vote campaign, “No Clarity, No Closure: Why this Brexit deal will settle nothing.”

Dear Lord Kerslake,

Today I was invited by the People’s Vote team to attend the launch of your campaign “No Clarity, No Closure.” I very much welcome what you and Lord Kerr are doing. We need people like you to intervene, and take perhaps unprecedented action to save the nation in this emergency.

I just hope it is not too late.

You reminded us that the British civil service serves the government of the day. But surely, there is a higher service, a higher duty that the civil service has, and that is to serve the nation.

If a government intends wilful and grievous damage to the nation and its people, is it not your duty as the civil service, particularly as a senior civilservant, to speak out and try to prevent this?

Do you not have an ethical duty that goes beyond serving your ‘political masters’?

Because, in the end, we the people are your masters and your duty is to serveus. And perhaps to save us, with your superior knowledge.

I have a confession to make: I was the lady in the first row who asked you about the ethical duty of the civil service to serve the people over the government in a grave emergency, such as in case the government endangers the nation.

It was a heartfelt question born out of near despair. And I appreciate very much that you gave me a precise and direct answer, particularly when I pressed you on when and where the cutoff point is. For you. For the leaders of the civil service.

And you said that if nothing changes, “then by the end of February the civil service will speak out.”

And when I tried to nail you down by asking “In 2 weeks’ time?”, you said “yes.”

Please do!

I take that as a commitment, and I will remind you exactly in 2 weeks’ time.

The general public is frightened of 29 March, Brexit day. I am absolutelyterrified.

Lord Kerr joked about people hoarding tins. How frightened do you have to be to hoard tins?

I would like to implore you both, since you seem to be certain that there will be an Article 50 extension, could you please let us, the people, know?

We need our civil service to speak truth not just to power but to the people. You seem to know so much more than most of us do. We need you to tell us.

Our lives are at risk. The country is in grave danger. Please follow your conscience right now. It is almost too late.

I will try to remind you in two weeks’ time, on behalf of all of us.

Thank you for your courage. Much more courage will be needed before this is over.🔷

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[This is an original piece, first published by the author in on 8 February 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: - 2014. Licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.)