Brexit: Preparations and Negotiations - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:34 pm on 23rd July 2018.

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Photo of Lord Newby Lord Newby Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords 3:34 pm, 23rd July 2018

We are talking about what the options are. I am saying that there are three; perhaps the noble Lord believes that there are others. I believe that there are two relating to Brexit—no deal, or something broadly based on what the Government have produced. I believe the only other option is staying in, and the only way to get that accepted in the country, politically and morally, is through another popular vote.

As for timing, it would be perfectly possible to legislate quickly for such a referendum; it would be perfectly possible to get a very limited extension of Article 50 from the EU. It is typical of what happens when people are losing the argument—they come forward with administrative problems. Are we saying that we could not hold a referendum relatively quickly? Is it beyond our powers? Of course not. The truth is that, if we want to do it, we can do it. The arguments for not doing it are not administrative—they are political.

Finally, as this fractious Parliament takes its summer break, the position on Brexit is now clearer: there are only two options, neither of which can command a majority in the Commons. The only other option is to remain in the EU following a people’s vote, and the people would now vote to remain.