Brexit: European Union-derived Rights - Motion to Resolve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:45 pm on 4th April 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Wheatcroft Baroness Wheatcroft Conservative 7:45 pm, 4th April 2017

I thank the noble Lord. We are a very friendly Brexit club here.

I speak in support of both these Motions, which seem to me very moderate and reasonable. I know that my noble friend Lord Bridges is a very reasonable and moderate man and I hope that he will have no difficulty accepting them. However, perhaps it will encourage him a little more to know that, as regards the first Motion, my postbag has been full of letters and emails from UK citizens resident in Europe. They unanimously do not want to be used as bargaining chips. They want us to do the decent thing and to do it now because they know the damaging uncertainty that they are going through, and they would like people who come to the UK not to have to cope with that uncertainty. The wonderful thing is that this would also be enlightened self-interest on our part because, as even the Minister for leaving the EU has said, we need these people to stay. Already that is less attractive for them than it was, not just because of the changed climate but because of what Brexit has done to the pound. Those who want to send money back to the countries they come from are already finding that that is much tougher than it was. In the agriculture industry, for instance, wages are already having to go up, and food prices will therefore go up too. Therefore, we should do the decent thing, do it quickly and keep those people we need living here.

Secondly, having a Joint Committee is a very sensible thing to do. We need to be clear about what the vote is and when it is. A vote simply on the proposition, “Accept this deal or we are out of Europe without a deal” would be a travesty of parliamentary democracy and certainly would not amount to taking back control. I wonder whether the Select Committee might look at what we need to know before it is possible to vote on any deal, or no deal. Perhaps the Minister could tell us, for instance, when we might be clearer about what the border in Ireland might be, because for the people living in Ireland there is as much uncertainty as there is for EU citizens living in the UK.