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

That is not the consensus of reputable economists, who all say that we will do worse outside the EU. Some of those who say that we will be fine under no deal are not the vulnerable people who will suffer in a crash-out situation. They do not have millions stashed away.

Clause 2 would enable exit day to be changed by the Government subject only to the negative procedure. We agree with the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that it would be better if the clause was removed from the Bill. We dealt expeditiously with the change from 29 March to 12 April in the statutory instrument, and there is no reason to think that we would not be able to do so again if required. It is a domestic law issue; if we get an extension, it is not a question of whether we are in the EU but a question of necessary housekeeping, and it can be done.

I do not want to go on about a people’s vote, but the noble Lord, Lord Howard, referred to the will of the people. It is time to update our knowledge of the will of the people. Three years on, it is not reasonable or reliable to rely on what a different electorate said in 2016. We hope and expect that the Prime Minister will seek an extension, but she should use that extension to get an update of the verdict of the people.