Further Developments in Discussions with the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union - Motion to Take Note (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:44 pm on 11th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice) 7:44 pm, 11th March 2019

The birth of an idea often involves a degree of kicking and screaming. We arrived there.

The noble Lord, Lord Cavendish of Furness, asked about the claims by Sir Richard Dearlove and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Guthrie, regarding defence and security. We challenge entirely their assertions in this area, which we suggest are neither correct nor well founded. The withdrawal agreement does not threaten the national security of the United Kingdom. It does not place control over aspects of our national security in foreign hands. The withdrawal agreement and political declaration in no way cut across our NATO membership, our bilateral relationships—including with the United States—or our Five Eyes intelligence co-operation. I hope that that will put his mind at rest.

I acknowledge the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, that the control of our borders was a major issue in the referendum. I also note that concern over immigration has lessened in the recent past. That is to be commended but we are conscious of the position.

My noble friend Lord Cormack invited me to comment on his suggestion for a joint Grand Committee. I note his suggestion.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, referred to the observations of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham—I am sorry, the unnamed noble Lord—regarding the proposition to revoke Article 50 so that we could proceed to negotiate a different deal to withdraw. I concur entirely with the noble and learned Lord’s observations regarding the interpretation and application of the judgment in the Whiteman case. It does not appear to me—I believe I said this at the time of the previous debate—that we could proceed with that course of action.

In view of the time, I will conclude. The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, began by saying that I am bereft of inspiration for novel thoughts. For once, we find ourselves in agreement. I am obliged to noble Lords for their contributions to the debate.

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 7.58 pm.