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Brexit prompts RCGP to take legal advice regarding political impartiality

The RCGP is in discussions with lawyers over taking a political position on Brexit and the potential of a second referendum.

The college, as a registered charity, notably does not take political stances, but the RCGP said 'a lot of people would like' it to make an exception for Brexit.

Taking questions at today's RCGP conference, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said she had 'wrestled' with the prospect of the RCGP taking a 'stance'.

She said: 'We are a charity so we can’t take a party political stance on anything. It doesn’t stop us having views, it doesn’t stop us caring about our patients.'

But she added: 'What we haven't done is take a position on the second referendum and in fact a lot of people would like us to do so. Our trustees are discussing the risk to the charity of us having that conversation and taking advice from lawyers as to whether we can have that debate.'

The BMA, which as a union has opposed Brexit, warned earlier this week that the Government's stance on EU migration after Brexit would have a 'huge knock-on effect' on general practice.

This followed the home secretary's announcement that people from the EU would have to meet the same requirements as other overseas immigrants to the UK.

Professor Stokes-Lampard said that 'even if [the college] can't take a position on it', it will be 'important to have healthy debate' about Brexit.

'I don't know about you, but it really scares me personally,' she added.

The BMA backed a second referendum in August of this year, after doctors voted to oppose leaving the EU at the Annual Representative Meeting, in which the association's Brexit lead argued that it is ‘imperative’ that the public gets a say in the final deal.

Readers' comments (6)

  • AlanAlmond

    Keep out of politics.
    Yes a lot of people would like it, but a lot of people would not.
    By a ratio of around 47:53
    The RCGP has no mandate to speak for the political views of GPs.
    Divisive and dangerous.

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  • I couldn't agree with AlanAlmond more. RCGP has absolutely no place to be even promoting a second referendum. Democracy has spoken. Maybe we should have another vote on Dr Stokes-lampards job. She wae awful as treasurer and is equally as awful now. I didn't vote for her so by her definition of democracy the members should get another vote.
    If they do take a stance then i look forward to saving £400 quid a year when i tell them where to stick their dictatorship agenda.

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  • Not appropriate:
    I do not want MY college to petition on MY behalf for a second referendum on Brexit, I voted out and I expect MY college to respect MY opinion as a member of good standing

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  • The RCGP should NOT take what would in effect be a party political stance on this or any other issue. It is obvious to everyone what stance those in power at the RCGP want to take, but they should keep out of it!

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  • If the RCGP were arrogant enough, as they undoubtedly are, to take a (presumably) remain/2nd referendum stance on Brexit then I would hope that all members who voted to leave the EU also leave the RCGP.

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  • I don't know... just because (mostly) poorly educated on the topic of European integration majority voted to leave, doesn't mean that any opposing views should automatically seize to exist. And it is reasonable for body like RCGP to be concerned with questions of workforce planning in general practice and with patient safety too. Both would probably be adversely affected by Brexit. Brexiteers seem to show a lot of concern about democratic process where it comes to respecting the result of the referendum in 2015, but have no problem shutting down any (democratic) debate about very legitimate concerns about problems that Brexit will bring.

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