Ex-Remain campaign chair tells ITV News: Election result suggests some people have changed Brexit views

The former chairman of the Remain campaign has told ITV News that the result of the election suggests that some people have changed their views on Brexit.

Lord Stuart Rose said it was "too simplistic" to interpret the election as a "vote for a softer Brexit", but he believes that the slowing economy has possibly caused some of the 52% of people who voted to "Leave" the EU to reconsider their position.

"What we said at the time [of the referendum] might happen has begun to happen," he said in his first broadcast interview since the referendum last June.

"We are seeing the consequences of a falling pound, prices are starting to go up."

Lord Rose continued: "It's not been an immediate economic disaster and I'd like to distance myself from the plague of frogs that was predicted, I never said that myself.

"I said it would get tougher, it is getting tougher, I believe it will get tougher still. We are in an inflationary environment, we haven't seen the end of it.

"We have seen confidence go down, we've seen consumer spending going down, we're seeing wages being squeezed, we're seeing disposable income being squeezed and people are being very worried, I suspect, about their futures."

Lord Rose, the former chief executive of Marks and Spencer, does not think there should be a second referendum.

But the Conservative peer argued Theresa May should "rethink" her strategy for negotiations with the European Union, which he said had been "too aggressive".

"I'm a great believer that going into a negotiation where you say 'unless you give me everything (I) want, I am going to walk away', it sounds rufty-tufty, but it's never the negotiation that ends in the best result," he said.

The Prime Minister's stated position is that "no deal is better than a bad deal" with the EU.

Lord Rose disagrees. "No deal is not an option," he insists.

He argues that the consequences of the UK leaving the EU on WTO trading terms would be disastrous and it's unwise of the government to suggest otherwise.

Lord Rose says Britain's negotiating position is "undoubtedly weaker" than it was before the election, but he believes that "friendly divorce is possible" and that Mrs May can lead the negotiations. "Who else is going to do it?" he said.

The peer recommends that the government immediately guarantees the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK. "I would have taken that off the table immediately," he said

Until now, Mrs May has said Britain will be leaving the Single Market because ending free movement of people and lowering immigration is a higher priority than a deal on trade. Once again, Lord Rose urges a change of tack.

"I think personally that the Conservative Party on this subject [immigration] has got itself in a bit of a mess," he said.

"Because if you do want to get migration down to the tens of thousands, that does actually put you in a very difficult negotiation situation and it does also mean that it may not be, in my view, in the best interests of the UK today or in the future in terms of our own economy."

Lord Rose accepts that the campaign to remain in the EU has been lost, but argues that it is still possible to assuage fears about immigration while retaining significant access to EU trade.

"That may not be Single Market that we're in today but I don't see a reason why can't come up with a model that is close to it," he said.

But he argues success is only possible if the government overhauls its policies.

He's critical of both their approaches to Brexit and how businesses are treated in Britain.

"I'm a Conservative peer and I support the Conservative Party but I have to say that when I saw the manifesto I didn't see a particularly business-focussed or friendly manifesto," he said.