Andrew Adonis quit as Theresa May’s infrastructure czar, but not before delivering a blistering verdict on the Brexit policy being pursued by the U.K. prime minister and her Conservative Party.
The Labour peer and former transport secretary described Brexit as a “populist and nationalist spasm worthy of Donald Trump” in a resignation letter published by the Guardian that he confirmed as “accurate” on Twitter.
As for May’s flagship piece of Brexit legislation, which cleared the House of Commons in December, Adonis described it as “the worst legislation of my lifetime,” and indicated he’ll oppose it when the House of Lords debates it.
“I feel duty bound to oppose it relentlessly from the Labour benches,” Adonis wrote. “You are pursuing a course fraught with danger…If Brexit happens, taking us back into Europe will become the mission of our children’s generation, who will marvel at your acts of destruction.”
Adonis was appointed to the National Infrastructure Commission in 2015 by then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, to push cross-party consensus over long-term decisions to invest in infrastructure. His departure and pledge to oppose May’s Brexit strategy is another sign that even as Britain leaves the EU, divisions permeate throughout the political establishment.
His departure means 2017 is bookended by resignations for May. Three days into the year, her EU envoy Ivan Rogers unexpectedly quit, depriving her of a key figure in dealing with EU negotiators. And now, days from the end of the year, Adonis is departing with an excoriating verdict on the country’s direction.
“Brexit is causing a nervous breakdown across Whitehall,” Adonis wrote. “The government is hurtling towards the EU’s emergency exit with no credible plan for the future of British trade and European cooperation, all the while ignoring — beyond sound-bites and inadequate programs — the crises of housing, education, the NHS and social and regional inequality which are undermining the fabric of our nation and feeding a populist surge.”
He also blasted Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s “indefensible decision” in November to bail out train operators Stagecoach Group Plc and Virgin Trains by ending an unprofitable rail franchise contract early.