Brexit: Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration - Motion to Take Note (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:49 pm on 14th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Labour 4:49 pm, 14th January 2019

My Lords, it looks like Brexit is effectively over, thanks to the mature good sense of the British people and the British Parliament. The question now is: what next?

First, we need to end Brexit democratically. If the Prime Minister has any qualities of leadership, she will call a referendum rather than wait for one to be forced upon her by the House of Commons.

Secondly, we need urgently a plan to rebuild Britain and to tackle the social crisis that led to Brexit. There must be a real end to austerity: we need to build houses, improve the NHS and train our young people, especially those who do not go to university. We need a federal constitution for the United Kingdom and a new settlement for England, which is currently run like a colony from Whitehall.

Thirdly, we must rebuild Britain’s place in Europe. We need to lead, not leave. We must stop, once and for all, being half in and half out, and fulfil the vision of our country’s greatest leader, Winston Churchill, who saved Europe and inspired the European Union—a free union of free peoples that has successfully promoted the peace and prosperity of Europe for two generations, and which we are taking for granted at our peril.

I was recently in Dublin discussing the consequences for Ireland of Brexit. On the wall of the General Post Office, scene of the bloody 1916 Easter Rising against Britain, are these words of Seamus Heaney:

“History says, don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme”.

Today, we have a once in a lifetime moment to do the right thing for our country.