European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:19 pm on 5th September 2019.

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Photo of Lord Howard of Lympne Lord Howard of Lympne Conservative 12:19 pm, 5th September 2019

My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, with whom I have had the pleasure of jousting over many decades. Occasionally I have even agreed with him. I will not follow his speech in its entirety, but before I address the remarks that I prepared I will deal with one of the observations he made and challenge one of the myths that has grown about the role and achievements of the European Union.

It is often said and rarely challenged that one of the great achievements of the European Union was peace in western Europe after the Second World War. I do not believe that to be true. The peace that has existed in western Europe after the Second World War actually owes more to the Soviet Union than it does to the European Union. It was inconceivable for almost 50 years after the end of the Second World War, when western Europe faced an existential threat from the ambitions of the Soviet Union, that any further fighting should take place in the western part of the continent. They were obliged to unite to face that threat. That was why we had peace in western Europe for 50 years after the Second World War. Of course, happily, after that period had lasted and the Soviet Union had disintegrated, the countries of western Europe had got out of the habit of fighting each other and we have been able to enjoy peace ever since.