European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill - Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:30 pm on 7th March 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour 12:30 pm, 7th March 2017

I am sorry and I stand corrected. It was the Common Market, then the European Community, then the European Union and no doubt it will be something else in due course. The people who voted yes in the 1975 referendum did not know that it would triple in size over the ensuing 41 years, that qualified majority voting on all related matters would develop and that we would get a European foreign ministry, 150-odd offices of the European Union around the country, a European foreign affairs spokesman and so on. I am not necessarily criticising that, but I would say that no one who voted yes in 1975 could conceivably have thought that that would be the way in which the European Union would develop. Correct me if I am wrong, but do I recall anyone who voted yes in 1975 saying, “No, the circumstances have changed dramatically and we need to have another referendum to check whether the people agree with what they voted for”? The answer of course is no, that did not happen, and we waited 41 years between the first referendum and the second.

If we adopt the same principle in this respect, we shall have another referendum in 2057. I am a generous man looking for compromises and I think that would be an unreasonable gap between this referendum and any subsequent one. However, it is inevitable that after any decision, whether in a referendum or at a general election, some people will be dissatisfied with the result and will want to have it checked—correction, they will want to have it reversed. That is precisely the motive behind this proposal for a second referendum— unacknowledged in the Bill and unacknowledged during the referendum debate, and now being demanded as an entirely novel proposal. I hope that the House will agree with me that that is not acceptable.