European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill - Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:45 am on 7th March 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Wigley Lord Wigley Plaid Cymru 11:45 am, 7th March 2017

My Lords, I support Amendment 1, but I believe we have Amendment 1 and Amendment 3 in the wrong order. If we pass Amendment 3, as I suspect may well happen, that would give Parliament the final say, which is certainly better than allowing the Government to walk roughshod over Parliament and decide for themselves. We cannot ignore the fact that the people, regrettably in my view, voted to leave the EU, although in doing so they did not have a clear view as to the alternative they were backing. If Parliament—or the Government for that matter—has the final say and the people who voted out last June do not like it, we could easily escalate the situation into an almighty crisis. That could be avoided by a confirmatory referendum.

Let us imagine over the next two years that negotiations get nowhere and the Government resort to the WTO basis with no preferential access to the single market. Car factories start closing, as the noble Lord, Lord Morgan, mentioned. Financial services move to Paris or Frankfurt. The EU insists on a €30 billion payment, or whatever, from the UK. EU nationals start quitting key posts in the NHS and expats find that they have to start paying for their healthcare in the countries they live in, or lose pension increments that arise from the UK. At that point, many who voted out will start bleating, “This isn’t what we voted for”. At that point, the only way for the Government to hold their line is to be able to tell them, “Okay, you will get the final say, so let’s see what happens with the final package”. It is therefore in the Government’s best interest to have a confirmatory referendum. I believe that is a very good reason for backing the amendment.