The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, assents. Is it in the national interest to abandon any say in making our laws in vital areas during the transition period and to pay a staggering £39 billion as the price of our emasculation? That is more than £2,200 for every person who voted leave in the referendum. Every penny of it will have to be borrowed and paid back by the young people who have featured in so many of the speeches this evening. Just think how a fraction of this sum could be used for huge benefit in our schools, or to repair the damage caused by the cuts to welfare and universal credit.
Is it in the national interest to enter into a legally binding agreement from which we will have no unilateral right to withdraw, to bind the hands of future Parliaments and to make us reliant on the permission of a foreign power or court to fulfil our manifesto promises? Is it in the national interest to risk fracturing our United Kingdom by making Northern Ireland a rule-taker in further areas, including goods, agricultural products and VAT? The backstop provides for an all-UK customs union and regulatory alignment in Northern Ireland—a gift to the Scottish separatists and, along with the backsliding on fishing rights, a slap in the face for the 13 Scottish Tory MPs elected to preserve our union and save us from a Corbyn coalition Government. It is not just for the Scottish separatists. As we heard, the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, is already on to the opportunities to argue the case for Welsh nationalists on the back of these proposals. It is a total betrayal of the Democratic Unionist Party, which was assured that no unionist—indeed, no Prime Minister—could ever countenance a border in the Irish Sea, so eloquently explained by the noble Lords, Lord Browne of Belmont and Lord McCrea, in an outstanding maiden speech.
This is a hokey-cokey agreement, leaving our country half in and half out of a failing organisation in defiance of a promise given by a Conservative Government—indeed, by all political parties—that they would implement whatever the people decided in the referendum. We spent nearly £10 million of taxpayers’ money putting leaflets through every door giving that promise. Now people are prepared to cast it aside. We were told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Now, apparently, the national interest requires us to accept that a bad deal is better than no deal. We were told that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Now it seems that everything is agreed for nothing. It seems we have stumbled into an episode of “Yes Minister”, where it is being argued that it is necessary for us to leave in order to remain. There is still time for the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to change course and keep faith with those 17.4 million people who were promised that, if they followed us, we would give them their country back.