My Lords, this is my 12th intervention in the Brexit debate and since the day of the referendum I have argued a consistent case in this Chamber. I was on the doorstep and worked for Common Market entry in the 1970s campaign. I have supported the institutional changes brought about through the various treaty revisions, and then in 2016, as a remainer, I voted leave, taking a lot of flak from colleagues.
I suspect that millions of other European Union supporters did exactly the same, their primary reason being developments in Europe following the migration crisis and fear of its impact on the United Kingdom. The polling data, almost without exception, for the six-month period prior to the referendum indicated that concerns over border controls, free movement, ID and entitlements were at the heart of the leave vote. The people had lost confidence in our systems for monitoring and managing population movements. These population movements, without doubt, have given real lift and impetus to the development of intolerant and sometimes extreme movements throughout Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals—in particular, in Austria, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Denmark, France, Holland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia, Hungary, Greece, Estonia, Poland and Bulgaria—all potentially dangerous movements in their infancy, and we ignore them at our peril.
Cameron, realising the dangers, tried his best to dilute concerns at home by negotiating a deal with the European Union in early 2016. He failed because our European partners did not want to know. It was that failure that led me, with liberal views on immigration, to vote leave, and I believe that millions of others responded in exactly the same way and did likewise.
My hope has been and remains that the UK leave vote will, in this period of brinkmanship, trigger a discussion on a review of trans-European migration issues and Schengen, not only in Brussels but throughout the Union. We are told that this community pillar is not up for negotiation. I do not believe that. The Visegrad states, many of which are on the front line in the migration crisis, are facing ugly developments at home. Germany’s Government are destabilised. The magic of Macron has evaporated as he faces not only street demonstrations but, we now learn, a war of words with the Cinque Stelle movement in Italy over its support for his demonstrating opponents.
Former Prime Minister Blair has let it be known that he believes there is potential for flexibility over policies on managed migration and that Europe would respond positively. Even former Liberal Democrat leader Clegg has stated that he believes the door is open for further discussion. The former president of the Federation of German Industries, Hans-Olaf Henkel, has entered the fray with his bold statements supporting a special deal on free movement for the United Kingdom. I suspect he has a wider free movement and Schengen reform agenda in mind for other European states.
So how should we now proceed? I believe we should drop all this nonsense on the backstop, Canada-plus, Canada-plus-plus, Norway, WTO terms et al and concentrate on this one issue at the heart of the leave vote which is winding up the British people. We should go into Europe, build a support base with individual nation states—it is still possible even at this late stage—and push the Commission for a new deal on managed migration; our recently published White Paper is a good starting point.
Initially, our focus should be on an EU/UK deal; in the longer term, something wider. I believe we can secure that deal, which should be the basis for a referendum. The choice would be: remain, on the basis of a managed-migration deal which I would support, or leave on the basis of the May deal. Without that deal, a second referendum victory for remain is more problematic; I would even foresee another referendum later this year.