Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Report (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 18th April 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Crossbench 3:45 pm, 18th April 2018

Perhaps I may continue. I recall no debate at all at the time of the referendum on a customs union. The country voted narrowly to leave the European Union, but no one can argue that it voted knowingly to leave the customs union with the European Union.

The red line was laid down in October 2016 in the “citizens of nowhere” speech. One hears that there had not been much discussion in the Government; there certainly had been no discussion with Parliament. One wonders to what extent the economic consequences of the decision on customs union had been fully assessed and analysed within the Government; I have no idea. Other red lines have since been sensibly blurred; in my view, it is time to blur this one.

The House knows that I was and remain a keen remainer. I believe that, when a deal is struck, the country should be given a chance to say whether it is what it wants. That would be fair, but it is nevertheless our duty to help improve the deal and see how it could be made better. If in the end we do leave, it should be in a way that limits the damage to the country’s well-being and to the future of our children. That is why I believe that it makes sense for the Government to be asked to explore customs union. I beg to move.