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 Baroness Kidron Baroness Kidron Crossbench 12:00 pm, 7th March 2017

My Lords, at Second Reading I set out an argument for a second referendum based on the principle of informed consent, a standard by which individuals are truly given and granted their opinion. I am not going to repeat that argument now, but it remains my primary reason for supporting this amendment.

Much of what I was going to say has been said, but I wish to make one brief point. We are being asked to have faith in the Government and their officers to secure this deal, but the reason given last week for not securing the fate of EU nationals was not that the Government were not willing, but that a small number of the remaining 27 would not play ball. Similarly, we have already been asked to accept that the Government cannot deliver the single market because the 27 have a red line on free movement. As the negotiation moves on from its visible red lines into the hundreds of thousands of details that will constitute this divorce settlement, the 27 will have a multitude of issues on which they do not wish to play ball. Yet by the Government’s own admission they have to accept, or are currently accepting, whatever is offered by the least interested of those 27 nations.

Meaningful parliamentary oversight and a mechanism by which the much-quoted “will of the people” can be tested are not automatic roadblocks to withdrawal; they are merely an insurance policy against a lousy deal.