My Lords, notwithstanding time constraints, I must also thank the noble Lord, Lord Boswell, for his opening speech and for his outstanding chairmanship of the committee that authored this report. I should very much like to discuss many aspects of the report, especially the need to enhance diplomatic representation, as discussed in paragraph 79, and the importance of rebuilding bridges, but, in the light of the continuing calls for an extension to the transition period, I feel bound to give my reasons for asking the Government to resist such calls unambiguously.
An extension would not be in the best interests of this country. First, it would blight new trade negotiations and prevent deals already under negotiation coming into force. Secondly, negotiations for the EU’s new multiannual financial settlement start in 2021. It is expected to include a vast fiscal stimulus package and accompanying legislative programmes to shore up an already ailing eurozone. Having left the EU, we would be likely to find ourselves burdened with massive financial liabilities and bound by laws over which we have no say in shaping. Such laws are hardly likely to be framed to serve our interests.
Thirdly, and regardless of what the noble Lord, Lord Lea, thinks, the EU is seeking to impose conditions on us that are less favourable than those other countries enjoy. If this impasse leads to a breakdown in talks in the coming days, the failure will not be of our making. Offering an extension would be an act of irresponsible self-harm. When we put this tragic pestilence behind us, let us reject the protectionism that rewards the rich and harms the poor. History, even recent history, shows that free trade enriches and liberates all people and all countries. Let us embrace it now.