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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Report (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 8th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Labour 3:45 pm, 8th May 2018

The House may be aware by now that I am in favour of our staying in the European Union. I have great respect for the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds; it is great for bishops to spend a long time in the wilderness, but not for people doing trade and leading the economic life of the country. While the right reverend Prelate is in the wilderness, perhaps he can conduct our negotiations with whoever we are conducting them with in the wilderness on our behalf.

My reading of the amendment is that it has zero impact. I cannot see anything in the Bill that prevents our having any relationship with European agencies. Our issue with the Government is that they do not want relationships with many of them. I do not intervene, however, just to make the point that the amendment is useless. I am concerned by what is becoming a pattern in our debates on the Bill: thinking that changes with no substance whatever amount to great advances in our campaign to reverse Brexit. We should concentrate on things of real substance: the customs union, the single market and the referendum. Those are real changes.

As far as I can see, the Minister will not accept gestures of this kind because he does not accept anything from this House on principle, even from Bishops. Perhaps the Almighty can sway his mind in a way that we mere mortals cannot. He could accept the amendment but he will not. Even if we go to a vote, it is not worth wasting the time of the House on trivial matters of this kind; they may give us the impression of having some impact, but we are in fact having zero impact.