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‘Westminster and Brussels politicians to blame for Brexit vote,’ says Catholic peer

David Cameron with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels (AP)

Catholic cross-bench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool has said politicians in Westminster and Brussels are responsible for Britain voting to exit the European Union because they are “detached” from voters.

Writing in Italian newspaper Avvenire, Lord Alton said he voted ‘remain’ but had predicted a win for the leave campaign.

“Although, along with my family, I voted to remain in the EU I predicted a win for the Leave campaign. I squarely lay the blame at the door of politicians both in Westminster and Europe who have become detached from the people they are supposed to represent,” he wrote.

He accused European Commission president Jean Claude-Juncker of “disdainful arrogance’ and warned that other countries, including Denmark, Poland and Sweden, may now look to follow Britain’s lead. He also said that “Angel Merkel, Francois Hollande and Matteo Renzi should see what can be rescued from the car wreck of this tumultuous referendum.”

Lord Alton, who is professor of citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University, added that there is “no appetite in Britain for a United States of Europe and there never has been”.

However, he said in the wake of the vote in favour of Brexit there must be a “reinterpretation” of Britain’s relationship with Europe.

“Our Union Flag and our English Cross of St George are symbols of ‘union’ and a common faith,” Lord Alton wrote. “St George is thought to have been a Palestinian and everywhere you look in Britain is evidence of the whole world in one country. That’s what makes Britain truly great. Europe needs Britain, as it did in two world wars, just as Britain needs its friends in Europe.”

He added: “Instead of recriminations we need wise heads, steely nerves and steady hands to return to the principle of the founding fathers and see whether within the framework of subsidiarity, solidarity and the common good, there are structures that enable us to live together amicably – in diversity and respect.”

Meanwhile, Cafod has said it is too early to tell what impact Brexit will have on its work. Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at the aid agency of the Church in England and Wales, said: “In practice there will be little immediate impact on Cafod’s work as a result of the referendum decision, unless the value of sterling continues to fall; a weak pound makes our operations more expensive.”

Mr Thorns said that, although EU funding was “vital”, countries such as Norway were able to access the funding without belonging to the EU.

He added: “We must now all focus on ensuring we ‘welcome the stranger at our door’, given we are witnessing some of the worst crisis situations of our time, with desperate people continuing to flee Syria and other countries.”