We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Brexit - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:21 pm on 19th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Lipsey Lord Lipsey Labour 12:21 pm, 19th October 2019

My Lords, I rise in my place, but my heart is not here. My heart is with the hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens currently marching through the streets of London in support of a further referendum. I hope I may be forgiven for injecting a note of frivolity into this debate. There have not been many such notes so far. I am in favour of a four-way referendum: no deal, Johnson’s deal, remain—and “I do not give a stuff” because I think that is what quite a lot of our fellow citizens feel. They have lost all touch with this and they do not give a stuff what the outcome is. I think they are wrong to think that, by the way, as a no-deal outcome would be a disaster, but that feeling is there in the country.

I make that point in order to make a much more serious point. Over the past couple of weeks, the streets of London have been full of demonstrators against our indifference to climate change. The demonstration went on a bit too long and some of the tactics used were wrong, but climate change is about whether the human race survives and whether our planet continues. That is a crucial issue. At a lesser level, what about social care? Thousands of our elderly citizens sit neglected while the Government dither about their social care policy. What about housing? People are paying half their income in rent. Are we sure that we really have a sense of proportion about this European issue? I have listened to all the passionate speeches that have been made but in some ways, we could do with a bit less passion and bit more reaching out one to another to try to find common ground, without party politics.

I have been in politics here for 50 years. When I started out, it was the Labour Party that was divided about Europe. On the one hand, there were the Jenkinsites making powerful speeches in favour of Europe and on the other hand, the Bennites were making their speeches against. I worked for a man some noble Lords will remember, Tony Crosland. He refused to be strung out like that. He was a pro-European in principle, but he refused to think it was the most important issue facing the nation compared with how we achieved economic growth and greater equality, how we dealt with housing and so on. I think he was right then and that his philosophy has something to teach us now.

How did the Labour Party resolve that problem? It did so by a referendum, and I would like to see another one now.