European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:34 pm on 4th April 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Ludford Baroness Ludford Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 7:34 pm, 4th April 2019

I think that the noble Lord is somewhat out of date. There has been a serious impact on the economy. As a result of the Brexit vote, we have lost around 2.5% of GDP, even though we are still in the EU. We are down by around £600 million a week.

As I was saying, there are already shortages of medicines, and that will get worse. The noble Lord, Lord Lilley, who is not with us now, suggested in a debate we had a couple of weeks ago that I was wrong to draw attention to the problem of people not getting essential medicines. These stories continue to appear, and they are very real. The NHS has not stockpiled everything because some medicines such as short-life isotopes cannot be stockpiled. It is therefore irresponsible to contemplate no deal. There would also be effects on our security and on Northern Ireland—the noble Lord, Lord Hain, has talked about the issues as regards the Northern Ireland border and possible direct rule.

Last night, Mr Mark Francois MP said in the other place that the Bill is a “constitutional outrage”, a phrase which was echoed by some speakers to the amendments to the Business Motion this afternoon. What in my opinion would be a constitutional, political, economic and social outrage would be for a Government, any Government, knowingly to inflict avoidable damage on their own citizens through a catastrophic and damaging crash-out from the European Union; hence the need to make sure we avoid a no-deal situation. This Bill assists in that process.