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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:47 pm on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Lord Bowness Lord Bowness Conservative 5:47 pm, 12th May 2020

My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, and indeed his successor, the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, on the work of the European Union Committee, and in particular this report. I agree with its recommendations. However, I think it would be a little more fruitful if we had actually been discussing a report on the withdrawal agreement and political declaration negotiated by the present Prime Minister.

My questions to my noble friend the Minister arise out of the changes which were made in that withdrawal agreement and what has happened subsequent to the election. What do the Government actually believe is the status of the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration negotiated, with much fanfare, by the present Prime Minister? What has happened to the close relationships that were envisaged in the opening paragraphs of that political declaration? What has happened to the matters referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Ricketts, of police and criminal justice co-operation and police and judicial co-operation? These are all now being replaced by our own new legislation. We are told that what we are aiming for by the end of December is a simple free trade agreement, but a simple free trade agreement will not, in my view, cover any of those issues. Indeed, the question is whether it will cover services.

I hope my noble friend the Minister will, on this occasion, answer my next question. Why, in the light of the current circumstances, and the likely economic fallout from coronavirus, do we not accept that circumstances have changed and seek the extension that, in my view, all reasonable people want? This is not trying to reverse Brexit; this is trying to make things better for the United Kingdom. I regret to say that, as we go forward, I have no confidence in the way that the Government are dealing with this issue.