Brexit: Negotiations - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:24 pm on 20th November 2018.

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Photo of Lord Desai Lord Desai Labour 8:24 pm, 20th November 2018

My Lords, I am a realistic pessimist about this. I think life is such that you do not always get the best option, no matter how hard you try. You have to choose between the second and the third best, or even the fourth best. So I am going to make a small forecast, because everything else has been said.

I reckon that, just as the challenge to the Prime Minister in the 1922 Committee has not happened—and I think will not happen—this deal will be approved by the House of Commons; it will not be rejected. I think the fear of no deal, as well as a dislike of no Brexit, are strong enough in the House of Commons for there to be a temporary coalition of enough Conservative Members plus enough Labour Members who will probably follow not their leader’s orders but their leader’s practice and defy the Whip, and I think there will be a small majority.

I think this deal, bad as it is, is the best that can be got. I think people are not foolish. They may not look very intelligent from a distance, but there have been detailed negotiations by talented civil servants. One also has to pay tribute to the Prime Minister. She has managed all this time by feigning to be a weak, indecisive person, and she has lasted longer than any of her colleagues. She did Chequers and got rid of David Davis and Boris Johnson, and ever since then she has been shedding Cabinet Ministers like nobody’s business. It is only when you find out that they have resigned that you realise that they were in the Cabinet in the first place, so it is making them famous by default. I think she has been clever. She has leveraged what men in the other place think are women’s weaknesses, and she has lasted eight years in the Cabinet—two as Prime Minister and six as Home Secretary. She has realised that this is the best she could get.

The fact that we may have a transitional period until not 2020 but 2022 is, in the long run of things, a very trivial matter. It will not look very nice now, but it will be forgotten very soon, so I say cheer up. This is what will be. There will be no no deal, there will be no no Brexit, this is the best you can do.