Brexit: Preparations and Negotiations - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:22 pm on 23rd July 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 3:22 pm, 23rd July 2018

That is what I have just said. I called them rogue Labour votes. Clearly, the Minister did not help here. There was also some dubious government whipping—just in case noble Lords think anyone was left out.

And it is a White Paper unacceptable to the Opposition, being grounded on flawed facilitated customs arrangements, an absence of migration clarity, inadequate plans for services and a failure to guarantee the Good Friday agreement. Apart from that, it is pretty good.

Why is it so unacceptable? First, of course, it is based on a fallacy; secondly, it is devised to satisfy a divided Conservative Party rather than satisfy UK plc; and, thirdly, because some think that the talk of no deal will somehow bring everyone on board, yet pretending to threaten a no deal, which could cost households £1,000 and see an 8% drop in GDP—twice that in the north-east—is nonsensical if the Conservatives ever want to win an election again. Crashing the economy would never be forgiven, not just by workers and consumers but by business, the City and manufacturing, which have of course traditionally trusted the Tories to manage the economy in the national interest. Borrowing the words of a former Prime Minister from the party that took us into Europe and who herself wanted the single market, “No, no, no”—no deal is not an option, so we should stop being diverted by it.

For all the positives—and there are some, in the common rulebook, a role for the ECJ, which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, has just mentioned, and a catalogue of issues almost lifted from the reports of our EU committees—the White Paper is based on the fallacy that there are profitable and exciting markets across the globe, currently closed to us, which would magically open the moment we left the EU. The notion that we are leaving in favour of some wondrous US trade deal better than we have with our nearest 500-million strong market, as well as the 57 agreements that we have through the EU, just does not hold water. It is a fantasy that we 60 million can negotiate better than the EU’s half a billion.