My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, for her excellent remarks. It is very heart-warming to see that the Liberal Democrat group is unequivocally in favour of the option of remaining in the EU. We are glad that there is at least one group. In comparison, for the first time in post-war Britain the Conservative Party has become anti-business and adopted a far-right ideology in pursuit of a crazy scheme, and the Prime Minister has made so many huge and needless mistakes in these faulty negotiations that all options have to be on the table now.
I agree that there has never been any explanation by British politicians of how the European Union actually works. It is a collection of sovereign countries. None of the other countries is worried about losing its sovereignty. Why is Britain worried about losing sovereignty by being a member of the EU? Individual sovereignty is strengthened and reinforced every time collective sovereignty is agreed in treaties or by whatever mechanism. The whole union gets stronger, as does each member state. Even small counties recognise and understand that more than this country, with our proud history.
We took 12 years, with two French vetoes, to get in, and then suddenly we started grumbling about things. That was the whole pattern, including from many Conservative politicians of a particular ilk over the years. That is very important, too.
I shall make just a couple of very quick but, I hope, profound remarks—they will have to be quick because of the time. The priority surely must be to think about the younger generation in this country—the people who are now beginning to think about voting in these matters if they get the opportunity and, whether or not there is going to be a general election, are considering that. That is a major matter for them. There are new, younger voters coming on the roll for the first time. Sadly, older members of our national electorate have died since the previous referendum. So the picture is changing. The diehards might want to stay with the so-called instruction of yesteryear, but that instruction is increasingly out of date and in reality they cannot.
By the way, there is one crucial element of our membership of the European Union that is applicable in particular to the younger generation: EU citizenship and the protection of the European Court of Justice. Our comics—called “newspapers”—in Britain have never mentioned that at all. Not even the BBC mentions it, but people are beginning to realise as time goes on that if we were to leave the European Union, we, particularly the younger members of our society, would lose the essential protection of European citizenship, which was granted by a sagacious Government, working with others, in the Maastricht treaty. We thank John Major again for doing that. He dealt with his recalcitrant colleagues—the word begins with “b” but I will not say the rest of it—better than Theresa May has done in the sad, dreadful episode of the gradual perdition of this country as this daft scheme goes on and on.
That means too that the media have to report these things properly. There is a huge amount of dismay about the BBC and how it is reporting this. It is the national broadcaster of this country, much loved by us all, quite understandably, and we hope it has a prosperous future, not least because there are some menacing Tory Peers who would like to do away with the BBC in its present form and with its present financing system. However, the BBC, newspapers and others must mention all the options. There is no question of the remain option being less important than the others. If three options are the present deal, trying to make the present deal better and no deal, the fourth is remain. Going by the latest figures that we have, the polls are showing that more and more people want to remain in the European Union. That is the nature of the body politic that we are now confronted with, and this House and—even more so because it has the greater power—the House of Commons have to realise it that and decide what is right for the country in recommending that the people now have another say.