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Outgoing NHS boss calls for PM to take her Brexit deal to the people

Sir Richard Sykes signs joint letter with other high-profile industry leaders demanding a second referendum

10 January, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Sir Richard Sykes is stepping down as chairman of Imperial College Healthcare after seven years at the helm

THE outgoing chairman of Imperial College Healthcare – the NHS trust that runs St Mary’s Hospital – has written to the prime minister demanding a second referendum.

Sir Richard Sykes has signed a joint letter with other high-profile industry leaders urging Theresa May to “take her deal to the British people” if MPs refuse to back the proposed package.

The letter said: “If parliament cannot agree on any form of Brexit urgently, we, as entrepreneurs writing in a personal capacity, call on the prime minister to take her deal to the British people.

“The government’s own figures show that the prime minister’s deal would be bad for the economy, jobs and business.

“It puts us in a weak position to negotiate a future trade pact with the EU and continues the uncertainty that has already made our economy weaker. Government figures also show that every version of Brexit will make us worse off.

“By contrast, our current deal inside the EU is good for enterprise and good for jobs – and means we are at the table making the rules. It also means we can generate the prosperity needed to pay for public services such as the NHS.”

The letter argues Ms May had “abandoned the most important vote in the House of Commons for a generation because she knew she could not secure a parliamentary majority for her deal”.

“The significant rebellion against her leadership underlines the impossibility of resuscitating it,” it adds.

MPs returned to Westminster this week ahead of a showdown vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal, which is scheduled for the week beginning January 14. Ms May was forced to pull the vote in December in the face of near-certain defeat, triggering an unsuccessful no-confidence motion by backbenchers.

Imperial has run a series of open events for NHS staff who are EU citizens and want to apply for the “EU Settlement Scheme”.

All European Union citizens, and their family, who want to stay in the country beyond December 31 2020 need to apply to the scheme. The NHS trust has said it will pay for applications of 1,500 “hugely valued” EU staff.

Sir Richard is stepping down as chairman after seven years at the helm, with Sir Gerald Archer taking over the role in the interim.

Chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Professor Tim Orchard said: “Sir Richard Sykes has made a massive contribution to our organisation and has been a constant champion of clinical leadership, innovation and putting patients at the centre of everything we do. We’re extremely grateful for all he has achieved and wish him the best for all that follows.

“Sir Gerald’s extensive knowledge and experience of our organisation will help ensure a smooth transition to our new leadership arrangements.”


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