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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:05 pm on 12th May 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Boswell of Aynho Lord Boswell of Aynho Non-affiliated 7:05 pm, 12th May 2020

My Lords, briefly and in conclusion, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions and for their personal kindness towards me. I also thank the Minister for his efforts to respond to the debate within the constraints of time. All I would say to him and to other Members of the Government in the present circumstances is, “Don’t close your minds. Remember that there is no stigma in being flexible and pragmatic in order to meet the interests of the country.” Perhaps I will leave it at that.

It has been the case, as it has through the debate, that complex EU structures, including its legal structures, and the protracted nature of the Brexit debates that we have had over the past four years, have been centred on detailed issues. As has been mentioned, our report went into some of those detailed implementation issues. Yet beyond that, the current exceptional circumstances drive us to some reappraisal of our strategic priorities. I noted with approval a recent article in the Times by the former Prime Minister, Theresa May, commenting simply and powerfully:

“Strong international relations are vital to our security and success.”

I hope that we can all agree on that.

I am proud in this case of the EU Committee’s role in taking our strategic thinking beyond Brexit. The answer for this country lies not in some retreat into what I might call national lockdown, but in attention and commitment to continuing international engagement. As the debate has made clear, we have all the circumstances of the pandemic and issues of climate change, and we could perhaps have said more about their interaction in the position of developing countries and the ongoing impact on migration, for example. There is a huge international agenda out there on which we must not turn our backs.

As we reflect this week on the lessons of the Second World War, which led to the foundation of what became the European Union, we must leave ourselves space to rise to the occasion, and in doing so with other partners across the world perhaps play our proper part in making the world a better place. I beg to move.

Motion agreed.

Virtual Proceeding suspended.