European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill - Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:00 pm on 7th March 2017.

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Photo of Lord Hamilton of Epsom Lord Hamilton of Epsom Conservative 12:00 pm, 7th March 2017

My Lords, there are two scenarios vis-à-vis the attitude of the EU towards our leaving it. One is that it will be absolutely delighted that we are going. A thorn will have come out of its side once the UK has departed and it will be able to proceed with the federal dream it has always had. Therefore, it will want to quickly get on with an agreement and say goodbye to us. The other scenario is that the EU will regard the UK leaving as a hole in the head. As the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner, said, it will present it with an enormous budgetary problem. It will probably be contagious and will lead to other countries in the EU wanting to leave as well. The noble Lord, Lord Newby, says that we must trust them. Well, hold on. The people who run the EU are not renowned for being overtly democratic. Let us face it: they put the whole objective of the federal dream above all else. Therefore, they will say that we must go to any lengths that we possibly can to ensure that the United Kingdom stays in the EU.

How do you do that? You offer the most appalling deal known to man. Then, knowing that there is going to be a referendum, if this amendment is passed, you can confidently reckon that the British people will vote against that deal and the United Kingdom will stay in the EU. Does that not completely undermine the Government’s negotiating position once Article 50 has been triggered? This amendment should be opposed absolutely ruthlessly.