This site is intended for health professionals only

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.