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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:20 pm on 5th September 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Meyer Baroness Meyer Conservative 2:20 pm, 5th September 2019

My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Earl, Lord Devon, because I completely agree with him. I have not prepared a speech, so what I say will not be in order. I am a European. My mother is of Russian origin, my father was French and I have lived in Germany, America and the United Kingdom. I am sometimes a little surprised by the word “European” because European countries are all very different and have very different mentalities. In my opinion, the European Union we are talking about is of the past. There was a union for various reasons, and I will not go through the history of the coal community—I cannot remember the name—that led to the European Union. One reason was to protect us against the eastern bloc and the political reason was because we were afraid of the resurgence of the Nazi movement. Then there was trade, which was very useful for all our countries.

The point I am trying to make is that Europe today is very different from the Europe we are talking about. I live in France and I go to Germany quite often, and their view of us is very different from what we think it is. We are friends and we can work together. I strongly believe that we can leave the European Union but remain Europeans in the terminology we are talking about. The United Kingdom is very different from Europe. We used to call it “the continent” in the old days because we are different. For better or for worse—I believe for better, because I love this country—we are in a different world. As the noble Baroness, Lady Deech —who is no longer in her place—pointed out, Europe is not a place I particularly want to remain a member of because I look at it as something that will not work long term. I find that a lot of Europeans are very disillusioned with the European Union and feel very remote from its government. One thing I observe is that people feel left behind. The resurgence of nationalism is a direct result of the European integration forced upon them. People want a sense of nationality.