Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Third Reading – in the House of Lords at 8:30 pm on 21st January 2020.

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Photo of Lord Hamilton of Epsom Lord Hamilton of Epsom Conservative 8:30 pm, 21st January 2020

My Lords, I shall not delay the House long—I know that we all want to go home—but I had a conversation with a distinguished noble friend of mine a few hours ago, and he said, “Of course, the Government will give way on a few small amendments on this to satisfy your Lordships’ House,” and I strongly disagreed with him. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, has confirmed that the Government will use their majority to turn down all these amendments.

There could only be two reasons why the Government might not want to do that. One would be if there were a tremendous fault in the legislation, and some drafting were completely inconsistent and needed to be adjusted. There seems to be none of that: there have been no compelling arguments as to why the Bill should be adjusted in any way. The other reason would be to create good will in your Lordships’ House. But I have to say that there is no good will towards your Lordships’ House in the other place. We have lost all our friends, who ensured that we continued as an appointed House. Jesse Norman, who was key to all that, is a Minister, and we roughed up everybody else.

The noble Lord, Lord Howarth, described the Government as suffering from euphoria as a result of their majority. I think “euphoria” is a bit strong, but the Government do now have a great feeling of relief because they have a majority that will enable them to ensure that the people’s wish in the referendum of 2016 is fulfilled. The Government, and the other people I talk to in the other place, feel that there has been a conspiracy of remainers, both in this House and in the House of Commons, to ensure that we stayed in the EU.

The debate I have listened to here on this Bill gives me the impression that this House is now resigned to the fact that we are going to leave the EU, but will make those negotiations as difficult as possible for the Government, so that we will get a very bad deal and people can be justified in their view that we should never have left. The storm clouds are gathering, and there is constant speculation in the press on what will happen to this House—but we seem to be completely oblivious to it. We should be very careful about where we go over the coming months.