My Lords, as we have already heard, we are not actually leaving the EU. We are remaining on worse terms. This deal is so far removed from the people’s vote of 2016 and the result of that referendum that it is no longer just about Brexit. This is now about trust: a breach of trust.
I cast no aspersions if any noble Lord genuinely believes that this deal honours the referendum majority decision to leave. But in a spirit of mutual respect, I thank those such as Dominic Raab, Esther McVey, Steve Baker and Suella Braverman in the other place, whose integrity, sincerity and courage compelled them to resign. For me, their names comprise a roll of honour, because for them, keeping our promises is a matter of honour. They made the difficult decision with courage, because it takes courage to resign on a matter of principle; it takes courage to acknowledge that postponing the pain merely prolongs the agony; and it takes courage to point out awkward facts that those in power would rather we ignored.
Facts like handing over £39 billion of taxpayers’ money in misplaced good faith, on top of additional payments during the transition period—however long that may be—and without guarantees of future favourable trading arrangements from an EU which is determined to do this country down and, understandably, deny us any competitive advantage. Facts like the UK remaining a rule-taker, as we have already heard, over large areas of EU law. Facts like not being able to leave a so-called backstop customs union without the permission of the EU. And facts like reneging on the promise that Northern Ireland would not be treated differently from the rest of the UK.
Those in my party who accept this deal also need to accept that if it goes through, every Conservative candidate at the next election will face this question: “Which manifesto promise are you going to break first?” It would put them in a completely invidious position. In contrast, leaving on WTO terms, on which the vast majority of the world already trades, as my noble friend Lord Lang mentioned, would enable us to honour the result of the people’s vote in 2016 in full.
Some may see Brexit as only a question of technicalities, but trust is not a technicality. Trust determines who occupies No. 10 and which party forms a Government.