It has been on offer—and had it not been ruled out by that short-sighted red line, we might indeed have been talking about it.
The Government claim the deal will protect security, but outside the European arrest warrant and intelligence exchange this is simply not the case, as the head of the Met has warned. These are serious, precarious times as storm clouds gather, as the noble Lord, Lord King, described—but this deal, with its dangers for our economy, security and international relations, will lessen our voice in that troubled world as we face US antics, climate change and international security: we know the list.
The deal jeopardises our security and economy. That might keep the Tories out of office, as the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, warned us in December. But that is little comfort, not just because Labour would have to rebuild the economy but because of the damage to public trust in democracy, especially among leave voters who genuinely believe Brexit would improve, not damage, their families’ lives and futures, as my noble friend Lord Liddle suggested.
The deal fails to unite the country, and that is the result of the Government’s refusal to engage with the 48%, the trade unions, business, consumers, Parliament or the Opposition. The duty of the Commons, as my noble friend Lord Brennan said, is to direct the Government. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, agreed that,
“if this deal is not accepted, the… question”,
“what to do next… is for Parliament to answer”.—[
He also said that,
“if Parliament cannot solve this”,
we should call the whole thing off and,
“propose a Motion that we stay in the European Union”.—[
That other dangerous radical, the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, similarly suggested that if the agreement is defeated, the Prime Minister,
“should, without further delay, revoke the notice of withdrawal”.—[
This evening it is in the national interest for us to say that the deal is not acceptable for the future of our country. Even those who have given it their begrudging support describe it as “imperfect” and the “least worst”, “least bad” option. That is not sufficient for my grandchildren, your grandchildren or my noble friend Lord Radice’s grandchildren. Hence our Motion: no to no deal, and this deal will not do. I urge the House to support the Motion moved by my noble friend Lady Smith.