Beyond Brexit (European Union Committee Report) - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:55 pm on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Lord Liddle Lord Liddle Labour 4:55 pm, 12th May 2020

My Lords, I agree with everything the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, said, and in particular I underline his tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Boswell. I was a member of the European Union Select Committee for much of the time the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, was chairman. His was a very wise chairmanship; I learned a lot from him, and I am very grateful to him.

I want to make one simple point in these brief remarks. If we are to have influence in the world, it is very important—this is a key point, which the report stresses—that we build strong co-operation with other nations through institutions. Institutions matter to outcomes in foreign affairs. They create frameworks for regular meetings, they bring officials together, they facilitate instinctive mutual understanding of where other countries stand, and they make common positions easier to forge. I find it very depressing that the Government, in their drastic hardening of Brexit policy, have turned their back on institutional co-operation. They have rejected the possibility of a mechanism for co-operation in foreign affairs, refusing to talk about it. They have rejected an overarching framework for our relationship with the EU through an association agreement.

Gone completely is Mrs May’s notion of a deep and special partnership with the EU. It has been consigned to the dustbin of history. I am sorry to be harsh, and I hope that the Minister will tell me that I am wrong, but I do not think so.