Amendment 1

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 1:06 pm on 6th September 2019.

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Photo of Lord Cormack Lord Cormack Conservative 1:06 pm, 6th September 2019

My Lords, it is important that the Bill goes through as it came from the House of Commons, and I say that for one reason above all others. I believe that this Kinnock amendment gives an opportunity to bring to a seemly end the wrangling and the disputes that have taken place.

There are many in all parts of your Lordships’ House who would have supported the Theresa May deal. That was made plain in debate after debate. We never had the opportunity specifically to divide on it, but it was quite clear that a large number of influential Cross-Benchers, and of my friends on the other side of the House and this, would have accepted it. I believe that would have been a sensible decision.

We must remind ourselves that when it came up for the third time of asking in the other House, Mr Boris Johnson, not then the Prime Minister, voted for it, Mr Rees-Mogg voted for it and the Government in their entirety voted for it. I know that there has been a great clear-out of the Government, but it is entirely reasonable that, having had a chance to reflect after a change of leader and seeing the stark reality of falling off the cliff of no deal, we should have a chance to revisit it. That is not least because my noble friend the Minister—I am delighted that he is on the Front Bench at the moment—has repeatedly said this very week how hard he had fought to get the May deal through. Indeed he did, and I gave him constant support throughout those debates.

Therefore, this is no backtracking. It is a recognition of what we can do to bring this long, three-year saga to a decent end. Then we can move forward to a general election in due time, having agreed with our friends and allies in the European Union the terms of exit. I remind noble Lords in all parts of the House that, to use words I have used before, this is only the beginning of the beginning: there are many long months and years of negotiating ahead, but it would be far better to negotiate from a base of amity and accord than from a base of discord. That could and indeed would be the case if we came out without a deal, because acrimony would be the prevailing emotion, and that is not a good thing.

I hope that my noble friend Lord Forsyth will not have succeeded on this occasion in seducing your Lordships with his silver tongue, and I oppose the amendment.