‘Should’ve said no!’ Lord Rose admits regret over leading anti-Brexit campaign

Lord Rose: Compromised Brexit deal would avoid damaging UK

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Lord Rose told ITV that he originally turned down the role several times before eventually accepting it. He added that his regrets centre around being on the losing side of the referendum and not having an aggressive enough approach during the campaign. 

Lord Rose said: “I should have said no, instinctively, I didn’t think it was for me.

“I felt strongly about remaining in Europe but I didn’t think I was the sort of person who should lead that campaign, but sadly, nobody else would volunteer and I was lent on and persuaded and I weakened and I took it.

“They were desperate to get somebody, they were scrabbling around, it was sort of slightly ‘listen, Stuart. You really ought to do this because it’s your duty.’

“I regret it for lots of reasons. I regret having been on the losing side, I regret not having been aggressive enough, if that’s the right word, about what I thought we should do.

“Almost from day one, I had absolutely no impact or no say about how things were handled.

“I mean, effectively, you know, it was ‘here’s your speech, this is what you’ve got to say.’ I should have been stronger”.

During the same interview, Lord Rose stated that the Remain side made an “error” by focussing on the potential economic impact of Brexit.

Lord Rose said: “I do remember that, you know, people saying that we’ve really got to hit people on the financials.

Lord Rose: Leaving the EU would mean more taxes

“The argument has got to be about finances and ‘it’s the economy, stupid,’ going back to the Bill Clinton days or whatever it was. And I think that was a big mistake”.

“It was quite clear that immigration was a big issue. It was quite clear that getting your kids into school was a big issue.

“It was quite clear that getting a house and into housing was a big issue. It was quite clear that access to the NHS was a big issue.

“And I don’t think people really took it seriously about ‘Oh, well. You are going to be worse off’”.


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Lord Rose also shared his thoughts on whether a re-run of the referendum today if Vote Leave would still win.

He said: “You were fighting a campaign which was patently mendacious. I mean there were big porky pie lies,”

“We never were giving £350 million a week to the European [Union]…That [was] a massive lie. There was lots of other innuendo, wasn’t there. About people arriving from Turkey. That was just a lie, a scare story.

“That was Project Fear but it was Project Fear that pressed the right button for people to vote”.


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