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Queen’s Speech - Debate (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:27 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Alderdice Lord Alderdice Liberal Democrat 4:27 pm, 16th October 2019

My Lords, I do not intend to focus all that I wish to say solely on the question of Brexit, but there is one question that I would like to put to Her Majesty’s Government on that subject.

Before the referendum, I spoke on a number of occasions in your Lordships’ House and in other places about my fear, as a supporter of and as someone committed to the European project, that people’s minds and hearts were turning away from that project, and that if there were not serious efforts by those of us who are supporters of the European Union and those who are functionaries of the European Union, that disenchantment would continue and become more serious. Sadly, it has been so. There was not the kind of reform that might have changed the course of history in the last few years.

We are now in a position where in this country there are now really only two realistic positions as far as most people are concerned. One is the position of my party: although we accept that people voted by a small majority to leave, we remain committed to the European Union and wish to persuade people to change their minds on that, and, if we were in government, we would revoke Article 50. That is an honourable and intellectually credible position. The alternative position, held by those committed to Brexit, is also honourable and credible, although it is not one with which I agree and the arguments against it are substantial.

Given the background that I come from, I have become increasingly concerned about polarisation in the community.