My Lords, I agree with the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Warner. I have added my name to this all-party amendment and if a vote is called, I will vote for it. What struck me about the referendum campaign as I knocked on hundreds of doors in the south Wales valleys, which are all traditional working-class Labour strongholds, is that the people who were voting leave were voting against something. They were voting against the European Union, but they were not voting in favour of anything. In part that is because they were not told by the leave leadership what the alternative would be. In fact, the leave leaders were deliberately unclear and disagreed with each other as to what it would mean. Some argued that it would be a future like Albania while others argued that it would be in the single market, which was again denied by others. In that sense, the leave campaign left the alternative deliberately ambiguous and now we are in a position, or we will be in the coming months, where that alternative will become clearer.
In every other referendum, including the Welsh referendum in 1997, which as a Minister I helped to organise and lead on behalf of Welsh Labour, it was very clear that you were voting either to establish a Welsh Assembly or for the status quo. The same applied in Scotland in 1997, as it did to the electoral reform referendum in 2011—you were either voting for the alternative vote or to keep the status quo, the first past the post voting system. It was similar in the Scottish independence referendum held in 2014. Everyone knew that, whichever way they voted, it was absolutely crystal clear what they would get. What was different about the referendum held on
I am not disputing the outcome on
Perhaps I may quote in support of my remarks from the last Labour Party conference. Composite 1, moved by the TSSA union and seconded by Newcastle upon Tyne Central Constituency Labour Party, stated this—by the way, it was passed unanimously. I speak from the Labour Benches and I intend to remain on these Benches in the future, unless anyone questions that. The composite says that it,
“recognises that many of those who voted to leave the EU were expressing dissatisfaction with EU or national policy and were
That is Labour Party policy and I am speaking in favour of that policy.
I noticed and welcomed that, in her speech in Committee, the Leader of the Opposition, my noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon—I wish she was the Opposition leader, as opposed to our existing leader, but that is a different matter—said that she disagreed with pressing a referendum at this stage but left the question open. If there was a final demand come the final situation, following clarity on what Britain’s future would hold and the deal that had or had not been negotiated, then a referendum could be called at that stage. She left the door open. I welcome that and I understand the Front Bench’s position.
The truth is that the country was split down the middle on