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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Former Foreign Office Chief McDonald Reveals He Supported Remaining in the EU

McDonald claims the department was in 'mourning' following the 2016 referendum, prompting him to express his personal opinions

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UNITED KINGDOM: Former Foreign Office official Simon McDonald admitted to casting his vote to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum, despite colleagues’ shock and urging them to follow government policy. 

McDonald claimed he was chatting with colleagues who were stunned by the outcome and added he was trying to retain credibility by emphasising that they must carry out government policy.

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He made the statement in a BBC documentary¬†by Laura Kuenssberg about the political turmoil that has ruled the UK since 2016. The show also supports claims that former deputy prime minister David Lidington would have taken Theresa May’s post in No. 10 in order to hold a second EU vote.

McDonald contributed to Boris Johnson’s downfall, stating that “mourning” was the overarching emotion at the Foreign Office after the 2016 referendum.

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Staff members are obliged to give ministers objective advice and refrain from expressing their personal political inclinations, according to the civil service rule that controls officials’ behaviour. However, it doesn’t prevent holding opinions against the current administration.

McDonald stated that he was attempting to preserve credibility and to explain to a gathering of people, the majority of whom he believed had voted to remain in the EU, that their personal views were irrelevant to the professional point.

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He added that the Foreign Office board was not entirely comfortable with the change, and former deputy cabinet secretary Helen MacNamara is sceptical about its benefits.

McDonald’s stated that Johnson was informed about a complaint against Chris Pincher before designating him as a party whip, which played a part in his resignation as prime minister, as the former UK PM was accused of lying about handling the case.

Following a wave of resignations and pressure from the party due to Johnson’s handling of the crisis, he decided to leave.

Lidington acknowledges that as May battled to pass her Brexit deal through parliament, the idea of him taking over as prime minister to hold a second referendum was raised, but he believed it was unlikely.

Lidington said that Theresa was not going, and he never made any recommendation to her or made any move against her. The former deputy prime minister went on to say that he would not have done so.

Also Read: PM Rishi Sunak Raises Alarms over Chinese Interference in Parliamentary Democracy at G20 Summit

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