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Brexit: Negotiations - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:28 pm on 3rd October 2019.

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Photo of Lord McNally Lord McNally Liberal Democrat 4:28 pm, 3rd October 2019

My Lords, to help the noble Lord, Lord Howell, the policy of the Liberal Democrats is to remain. That is the best deal on the table. However, that does not remove our duty in this House and in the other place to explore what the Government of the day are proposing. I therefore put it to the Minister that the reason why the Good Friday/Belfast agreement worked was that it was the result of careful diplomacy with all the players in play in Northern Ireland and in the Republic. What is worrying about the proposal that the noble Baroness has put before us today is that it seems that only the DUP was involved. That is a fatal flaw in any attempt to win consensus in Ireland.

The other issue is that 31 October is not a special date other than in the mind of the Prime Minister. There is absolutely no reason why we should leave on that date. If this proposal is as good as the Benches opposite are now arguing it is, surely it deserves time to get it right rather than walking over a precipice of our own making into a disaster. We have all said things in negotiations—"dying in a ditch” or whatever—but the important thing now is the responsibility of the Prime Minister to negotiate in good faith for success. An artificial deadline of his own making puts that commitment in doubt.