Outcome of the European Union Referendum - Motion to Take Note (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:18 pm on 6th July 2016.

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Photo of Lord Cavendish of Furness Lord Cavendish of Furness Conservative 7:18 pm, 6th July 2016

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness. I find myself in agreement with some of the comments she makes regarding agriculture, although I think she should not be surprised that farmers voted in the way that they did, having spoken to many of them myself. My decision to intervene in this debate came to me when I reflected on the fact that I was in a minority in your Lordships’ House by virtue of supporting the leave cause and campaigning actively to achieve its objectives. I feel the need to explain myself.

If there is any advantage in lying 97th on the speakers list, I suppose it is in looking back and reflecting on a long and fascinating debate. Four things stand out for me. First, I think noble Lords have been completely united in their calls for ending the uncertainty facing EU nationals living here, and of course I endorse those calls.

Secondly, I fully appreciate that many noble Lords are seriously and sincerely upset by the outcome of the referendum. Even if I do not understand their sense of loss, and I do not, I appreciate that it is real, and today and in future I will respect that feeling. I have, however, been struck by how many senior Members of your Lordships’ House have hedged their acceptance of the public’s verdict, to the point of not really accepting it at all. Unless I misread him, I gained the impression that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, went further and quite simply repudiated the result on his own behalf and that of his party. I am very relieved to see him shaking his head, and of course I will accept his denial of that even if it is silent. The general feeling of not accepting the vote takes us into dangerous territory.

Thirdly, with very few notable exceptions, I have been struck during this debate by how very little I have heard by way of advocacy on behalf of the EU. I found myself wondering, “What is there to love about the European Union?”. With such experience and eloquence as to be found in your Lordships’ House, I had expected to find my own thought processes challenged and in that I have been disappointed.

Fourthly—I think there has been a tradition of not giving way, unless the noble Lord really wants me to.