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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:52 pm on 4th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Willoughby de Broke Lord Willoughby de Broke UKIP 8:52 pm, 4th April 2019

My Lords, I agree with only two things that the noble Lord, Lord Warner, said: one is the lack of trust in the country for this Government; the other is the botched mishandling of all our negotiations with the EU and in Parliament. But the lack of trust is largely due to the way Parliament is seen to have tried to block the result of the referendum.

I remind noble Lords in this House, who seem to have forgotten it, that in June 2016 the people of this country voted to leave the European Union. The turnout for the vote was 72%, which was one of the biggest turnouts for a democratic vote in this country’s history. The result was conclusive: 52% to 48%. The remainers understandably did not like that and said that we did not understand what we voted for. Of course we understood what we voted for: we voted to leave. In fact, each household in the country was sent a leaflet by the Government of David Cameron, who was then Prime Minister, extolling the virtues of remaining in the EU, which said we would be absolutely mad to vote to leave. At a cost of about £9 million, that was a pretty shabby little exercise at the taxpayers’ expense.

The last page of that leaflet was interesting, and I want to remind the House what it said:

“The referendum on Thursday, 23 June is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union… This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide”.

That seemed to be echoed by the current Prime Minister in her Lancaster House speech, which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis. At that point, she clearly accepted that the result of the referendum was a clear out. There would be no single market; no customs union; no part in, part out; and the famous,

“no deal is better than a bad deal”.

Parliament seemed to agree with her on that, and with the vote in June 2016. I remind noble Lords of what the votes were, both in this House and the other place. The European Union Referendum Act 2015 was carried in the other place by a majority of 491 votes. The Commons voted to give the Bill its Third Reading by a majority of 263 votes. The Bill received its Second and Third Readings in this Chamber without Division. On the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017, the Commons divided, and the amendment was defeated by a majority of 236 votes. The Bill was given its Second Reading by 498 votes to 114; a majority of 384. The Commons gave the Bill its Third Reading by 494 votes to 122; a majority of 372. The same applied to the European Union (Withdrawal Act) 2018, which was passed by majority votes in both Houses. There is this sudden idea that this is somehow unconstitutional.