My Lords, as others have suggested, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since this report was published. Indeed, that large amount of water is—metaphorically speaking —now sitting behind a dam wall while we all wait to see whether the wall will hold or the dam will burst at the end of this year.
As a former MEP, I am conscious of the critical situation that exists between the UK and the EU. It is clear to most people that it is vital that we reach agreements covering many things, including the environment, trade, agriculture and fisheries and security. The last is of particular interest to me, as it is where I was involved for many years in my work in the European Union. It is vital to ensure a strong level of co-operation between member states to protect their citizens.
The Government seem confident that in these and other areas we can achieve good outcomes quickly. In security there can be no maybe. We cannot afford to leave any vacuum, especially if the virus crisis produces more opportunities for those who might do us harm.
No number of treaties, protocols, understandings and agreements can suffice alone. To ensure good and harmonious relationships with our European neighbours in future, we must really want that from our hearts as well as our heads. Many young people especially look to a future in which Europeans can continue to enjoy each other’s company and benefit from shared interests and aspirations.
In the next few weeks and months, we need to display not only negotiating skills but a high level of positivism, good nature, diplomacy and pragmatism. I really hope that our leaders will deliver on that.