We might remain in a 'reformed' EU after all says former head of the civil service


After all that fuss and hassle, we might stay in the EU after all.

The former head of the Civil Service Gus O'Donnell said Britain could remain in a changed, "looser" Europe.

Sir Gus O'Donnell arrives at the UK Passport Office, in London, Thursday September 1, 2005, on his first day as a Cabinet Secretary.
(Ian Nicholson/PA)

The ex-cabinet secretary told The Times he anticipated that whatever happened, the UK would also keep in place EU law and rules.

The crossbench peer said: "Lots of people will say, 'We've had the referendum, we've decided to go out, so that's it, it's all over'.

"But it very much depends what happens to public opinion and whether the EU changes before then."

A European Union flag in front of Big Ben, as Remain supporters demonstrate in Parliament Square, London, to show their support for the EU in the wake of Brexit.
(Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

"It might be that the broader, more loosely aligned group, is something that the UK is happy being a member of."

Some Twitter users supported O'Donnell's comments, others rejected them - with their opinions seemingly linked to their view of Brexit.

Lord O'Donnell also warned against rushing to trigger Article 50 - the big red button which starts a two-year countdown to leaving the EU, whether trade deals have been made in that time or not.

The challenges facing Government are "immense", but "the probability of us not leaving is very, very low and we need to get on and implement the people's decision to leave", he told BBC Radio 4´s Today programme.

Sir Gus O'Donnell after he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath by the Queen during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London.
(John Stillwell/PA)

"The key for Government is to have a strategic plan to say 'what kind of UK do we want? What is our place in the world? What are we trying to achieve in these negotiations?'

"Once you have got those strategic decisions sorted out, then you can go about thinking about 'so when should we implement Article 50?'

"I wouldn't be in a rush."