Brexit: Proposed UK–EU Security Treaty (European Union Committee Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:37 pm on 16th January 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 7:37 pm, 16th January 2019

My Lords, to pick up on what my noble friend Lord Bach said, there is a tendency to be mealy-mouthed on these matters and to talk about the irresponsibility of the failure to prepare properly and take these issues seriously. If noble Lords will forgive me for saying so, it is much graver than that. I believe that, as the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, said so strongly, no deal would be—and here I choose my words carefully—treachery and a betrayal of the British people on what is vital to their interests: their security. It is an extremely grave matter. That is why the report of this committee is so important. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jay, without qualification, for giving us the opportunity to look at it this evening and for the sensible way in which he introduced it. We are indeed fortunate to have someone with his experience chairing and leading on these matters.

A fundamental failure on the part of successive British leaders has been the failure to face the reality that the European project was always political. Where this naive idea came in that somehow we were interested only in the common market dimensions of it and were not really interested in the political union I do not know. Going back to the origins, when we were talking about coal and steel, it was important to have sensible arrangements for coal and steel in the future of Europe but that was not the end: the objective was to build a stable, secure Europe and never again to have the searing experiences of the Second World War. It has been a tragedy that we have failed to understand this in British culture, because we have ill prepared the British people to understand the significance of the issues with which they are now confronted.

We are talking about the importance of Europe in security matters. The times in which we live underline this, because the volatility and unpredictability of US foreign policy under its present leadership are dangerous. My noble friend Lord West spoke with so much authority about the importance of the intelligence relationship with America. That underlines the dangerous situation in which we are placed. Everything my noble friend said was true, but, in reality, that is in the context of unpredictable and extraordinarily volatile happenings in the United States.

There are a couple of other reasons why this is so vital. One is the new policies of Russia under Putin: the interventionist lines he is following and the deliberate destabilisation of many parts of the world, including western Europe. That is another reason why we should be holding together with the European community as a whole—of course it is. However, closer to home, there are also the issues of Poland, Hungary and Romania, and some might say that this is therefore an unwise time to be more involved in the politics of Europe. Quite the reverse; this is a time to be in there playing our part, devising and strengthening the policies which are necessary to confront the forces of reaction and destabilisation. It is tragic to see Britain walking away at the very time when the challenge is greater than it has ever been.

In conclusion, I have become totally convinced that crime, trafficking, drugs and terrorism are all international. It is absolute madness to be moving away from close co-operation with Europe. Everyone I have heard giving evidence to the Home Affairs Sub-Committee, for example—anyone who has any kind of responsibility in these fields—has said that it would be nothing but to the detriment of the effectiveness of all that has been achieved in recent years if we were to move away. We need very convincing policies from the Government and there is no sign of them yet.