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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:36 pm on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Lord Balfe Lord Balfe Conservative 5:36 pm, 12th May 2020

My Lords, I begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, for his report. I am sorry that we did not debate it a good time ago but, at last, we are here. I also congratulate him on his distinguished chairing of the European Union Committee. The report is called How to Win Friends and Influence People. I want to concentrate on that, because the present governing party has made a complete mess of winning friends and influencing people. The only member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe taking part in this debate is the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes. I assure him that I am not implicating the Labour Party.

We send 36 people to Strasbourg; about half are British Conservatives. I am afraid that the way they behave there is—shall we say?—not designed to increase the influence of Great Britain. In particular, I mention the chairman of the Conservative group, Ian Liddell-Grainger, who, at the beginning of this year, together with Sir Roger Gale, invited the Alternative for Germany —the AfD—to join the Conservative group. In Strasbourg today, at a time when we are looking to influence Governments all around Europe, we have the British Conservatives allied with the AfD, the Holocaust deniers and the racists. What will we say to the Conservative Friends of Israel and the Jewish community? We have rightly condemned the Labour Party in the past; I am pleased about what Keir Starmer is now doing. But really, if the Minister has any influence, he must realise that this does us absolutely no good. It is time for the Conservative whip and the Conservative leadership to intervene, stop pretending that this does not matter, and get us out of this alliance with near fascists.