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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:51 pm on 14th January 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Liberal Democrat 4:51 pm, 14th January 2019

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, and I will attempt to imitate his brevity. I spoke in this debate before Christmas and simply want to ask the Government a question and to make one comment.

Why do the Government not, even at this late stage, make an agreement with the EU 27 simply about the status of EU citizens here, which would be reflected for UK citizens in the EU? As the Minister knows, several countries have come up with their agreements: Italy, France, the Netherlands and Germany. It would be a small, easy step for the Government to take and would show that they were compassionate and humane. The Minister may shake his head, but there is simply no will on the part of the Government to address this. They could have done so early on and got it out of the way. I look forward to hearing in the Minister’s reply the Government’s reason for not doing so.

My comment is that I am very tired of hearing what a divided country this is and that that is why we cannot have another referendum. The country is divided mainly along generational lines. I am sure that the House is as aware as I am of the figures for those who voted. Of 18 to 24 year-olds, 61% overall, and 80% of young women in that age group, voted to remain. Why does this generational divide matter? Because those young people have their whole economic future before them. The old people who voted leave do not: they are picking up their pensions. In my view and, I would hope, that of most parents and grandparents here, young people have a greater right to express their views on this issue. In fact, I would not have given a vote to the over 65s at all—and I declare myself as being in this group. Our future is as grandparents, and that is it. So we owe young people a second referendum. The country is in a total mess and the least we can do is enable them to have their voices heard.