October European Council - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:04 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Ludford Baroness Ludford Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 6:04 pm, 22nd October 2018

My Lords, it is surely not good enough for the Leader of the House to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, that she cannot answer his question. You do not need to be an insider in the negotiations to realise that it is complete nonsense to say that an extension of the transition period is an alternative to the existence of the backstop, whether it is Northern Ireland-specific or UK-wide. They are apples and pears, very obviously, and I want to press her on this point. It is a longer time, surely, to find a permanent relationship that makes the backstop redundant. Why do the Government continue to create smoke and mirrors, which presumably is for internal consumption in her own party but does not give honest, real explanations?

Secondly, if the Government want the temporary customs arrangement to be written into the withdrawal agreement as legally binding, how is that commensurate with their professed desire to maintain the ability to make a sovereign choice to exit from the temporary customs arrangement? If it is legally binding in the withdrawal agreement, as the Government want, how can you make a sovereign choice to abandon it?