My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now repeat a Statement made in the other place earlier today by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
“With permission, Mr Speaker, I will now make a Statement on the next steps in leaving the European Union.
The mandate for Britain to leave the European Union is clear, overwhelming and unarguable. As the Prime Minister has said more than once, we will make a success of Brexit, and no one should seek to find ways to thwart the settled will of the people, expressed in the referendum of 23 June. It is now incumbent on the Government to deliver an exit in the most orderly and smooth way possible, delivering maximum certainty for businesses and workers. I want today to update the House on how the Government plan to reflect UK withdrawal from the EU on the statute book while delivering that certainty and stability.
We will start by bringing forward a great repeal Bill that will mean the European Communities Act ceasing to apply on the day we leave the EU. It was this Act which put EU law above UK law, so it is right, given the clear instruction for exit given to us by the people in the referendum, that we end the authority of EU law. We will return sovereignty to the sovereign institutions of this United Kingdom. That is what people voted for on 23 June—for Britain to take control of its own destiny, and for all decisions about taxpayers’ money, borders and laws to be taken here, in Britain.
The referendum was backed by six to one in this House, and on all sides of the argument—leave and remain—we have a duty to respect and carry out the people’s instruction. As I have said, the mandate for exit is clear, and we will reject any attempt to undo the referendum result, any attempt to hold up the process unduly and any attempt to keep Britain in the EU by the back door by those who did not like the answer they were given on 23 June.
We are consulting widely with business and Parliament, and we want to hear and take account of all views and opinions. The Prime Minister has been clear: we will not be giving a running commentary—that is not the way to get the right deal for Britain—but we are committed to providing clarity where we can as part of this consultative approach.
Naturally, I want this House to be properly engaged throughout, and we will observe the constitutional and legal precedents that apply to any new treaty on a new relationship with the EU. Indeed, my whole approach is about empowering this place. The great repeal Act will convert existing EU law into domestic law, wherever practical. That will provide for a calm and orderly exit and give as much certainty as possible to employers, investors, consumers and workers. We have been clear: UK employment law already goes further than EU law in many areas, and this Government will do nothing to undermine those rights in the workplace.
There is over 40 years of EU law in UK law to consider in all, and some of it simply will not work on exit. We must act to ensure there is no black hole in our statute book. Then, it will be for this House to consider the changes to our domestic legislation to reflect the outcome of our negotiation and our exit, subject to international agreements and treaties with other countries and the EU on matters such as trade.
The European Communities Act has meant that if there is a clash between an Act of the UK Parliament and EU law, it is EU law that prevails. As a result, we have had to abide by judgments delivered by the ECJ in its interpretation of EU law. The great repeal Bill will change that.
Legislation resulting from the UK’s exit must work for the whole of the United Kingdom. To that end, while no one part of the United Kingdom can have a veto over our exit, the Government will consult with the devolved Administrations. I have already held initial conversations with the leaders of the devolved Governments about our plans, and I will make sure that the devolved Administrations have every opportunity to work closely with us.
Let me be absolutely clear: this Bill is a separate issue to when Article 50 is triggered. The great repeal Bill is not what will take us out of the EU but what will ensure the UK statute book is fit for purpose after we have left—and put the elected politicians in this country fully in control of determining the laws that affect its people’s lives.
In order to leave the EU, we will follow the process set out in Article 50 of the EU treaty. The Prime Minister will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year. That gives us the space required to do the necessary work to shape our negotiating strategy. The House will understand this is a very extensive and detailed programme of work, which will take some time.
The clarity on the timing of our proposed exit also gives the European Union the time to prepare its position for the negotiation. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said the Prime Minister had brought welcome certainty to the timing of Brexit talks.
We will, as Britain always should, abide by our treaty obligations—not tearing up EU law unilaterally, as some have suggested, but ensuring stability and certainty as Britain takes control on the day of exit and not before.
People have asked what our plan is for exit: this is the first stage. To be prepared for an orderly exit, there is a need to move forward on domestic legislation in parallel with our European negotiation so that we are ready for the day of our withdrawal, when the process set out under Article 50 concludes. Therefore I can tell the House that we intend to introduce the great repeal Bill in the next parliamentary Session. It demonstrates the Government’s determination to deliver the will of the British people, expressed in the EU referendum result, that Britain should once again make its own laws for its own people.
It is nations that are outward looking, enterprising and agile that will prosper in an age of globalisation. I believe that when we have left the European Union, when we are once again truly in control of our own affairs, we will be in an even stronger position to confront the challenges of the future. This Government will build a global Britain that will trade around the world, build new alliances with other countries and deliver prosperity for its people”.
My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement and I welcome the chance for the House to hear formally, rather than through the press, the decision to trigger Article 50 by the end of March and the plans for the great repeal Bill—a decision which otherwise, of course, we heard about on television. We trust that this is just the first of a number of regular attendances at the Dispatch Box to brief the House on the approach being taken and on progress being made. The decisions that the Government take over the coming months and years, regarding how we exit the EU and our new relations with both the remaining EU and the rest of the world, carry huge implications for us and for future generations.
I am old enough to remember, 44 years ago this month, that it took 69 Labour MPs to defy a three-line whip to take the UK into the Common Market, contributing to the Government’s 112 majority. Without those 69—which included the noble Lords, Lord Maclennan, Lord Owen and Lord Rodgers, Lord Hattersley, Lady Williams and Lord Sheldon, and our late colleagues Lord Barnett, Lord Roper and others—Ted Heath would have been defeated. We know the implication of that vote for my party, but all of us also know it was a parliamentary vote: a key, much-discussed, vital, and, for some of those involved, very brave vote that took us into Europe.
How, therefore, can the Government now say that the trigger—the starting gun from which there is no going back—can be fired without a vote in Parliament? The Minister spoke of returning sovereignty to the UK, yet the Government want to exclude Parliament from this process, not simply on triggering Article 50 but also in debating the negotiating terms or the evolving agreements. That is not making Parliament sovereign; it is sidelining Parliament.
Will the Minister explain why the Government will not reconsider their decision to rule out a vote on the basic terms they propose before Article 50 is triggered? We understand the Government were caught short, having had no plans for Brexit in their 2015 manifesto—indeed, they were committed to,
“safeguard British interests in the Single Market”.
They then forbade Whitehall from making plans for a leave vote. But that is no excuse for not being ready by early next year to articulate their approach. If the Government proceed to an exit deal without a vote in Parliament, their specific plans will never have the approval of the public or of Parliament. We therefore ask the Minister: when do the Government propose that Parliament should vote on their negotiating objectives?
We nevertheless accept—for some of us, with much sadness—the outcome of the referendum, but that result does not give the Government a blank cheque to negotiate away vital protections for workers, consumers, the environment or, indeed, the interests of business. Throughout these coming years and the complicated negotiations, the national interest—not just the Conservatives’ interests—must come first. Aside from defence and national security, and our continuing membership of Europol, the economy and jobs are central to the national interest. Yet, it appears from the Prime Minister’s statement to the Conservative conference that Brexit means hard Brexit and that continued access to the single market is at risk, with huge risks for the economy, jobs, business and working people. Will the Minister assure the House that the Government will seek continued access to the single market on the best possible terms? Can he rule out a default position of falling back on to the WTO terms?
For my generation—perhaps for me in particular, having been born in a war-torn Germany in the late 1940s, growing up in a divided Europe, but then able to witness the blossoming of a free, open and prosperous Europe, built on free trade in a single market—the next two and a half years will be utterly demanding as we seek a new relationship with our continental allies. It is the defining issue of this Parliament and a major task for the House. Perhaps the Minister could tell us: when is the next parliamentary Session, when the great repeal Bill will arrive? Will he confirm that he will take the House with him every step of the way?
My Lords, I also thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. I start, though, by querying the claim that the mandate of 23 June was “overwhelming”. Compared with the overwhelming mandate of the 1975 referendum, which was a 2:1 vote, this was a narrow majority, sending a rather unclear message that the Government are overinterpreting. While it may have been a narrow decision to leave on 23 June, it was not the decision to trigger Article 50, which first requires a great deal more knowledge of the destination.
The Government’s conduct of the Brexit process needs to meet at least four criteria. First, given the enhancement of parliamentary sovereignty and supremacy promised by the Secretary of State in his Statement of 5 September, the pledge in the Conservative manifesto of 2010 to reform the use of prerogative powers, and the claim in today’s Statement that the,
“whole approach is about empowering this place”,
I am surprised by the Prime Minister’s refusal of a parliamentary vote. The claim is that sovereignty is being returned to the institutions of the UK. That must mean Parliament, but it is not being done. I would like the Minister to explain why.
The Constitution Committee of this House said in its report last month:
“It would be constitutionally inappropriate, not to mention setting a disturbing precedent, for the Executive to act on an advisory referendum without explicit parliamentary approval—particularly one with such significant long-term consequences”.
I think that many in this House would agree with that. Indeed, Professor Mark Elliott, who is the legal adviser to that committee, has said in a blog that the Government’s “grounds of resistance” in the current litigation concede that permission is required from Parliament. They then say that permission was given by the referendum Act, which many of us would dispute, but they have conceded in that court case that Parliament’s permission is needed.
The second criterion, referred to by the noble Baroness, would be fulfilment of the 2015 Conservative manifesto pledge to stay in the single market. That is supported by the point stressed by the leave campaign that people voted in the 1975 referendum for the common market. Many people agreed with that, so, by implication, most people are happy to stay in the common market. Why are the Government not aiming to stay in the single market?
Thirdly, we need good governance. I perfectly agree that it is,
“now incumbent on the Government”,
as the Statement puts it, to deliver as orderly and smooth an exit as possible, providing maximum certainty for businesses and workers. Well, with business up in arms about the current uncertainty and the pound dropping like a stone, that is going well, isn’t it? The Government owe us all some certainty.
Fourthly, the Chancellor remarked that the British people did not vote to become poorer. That is on the cards, with import prices set to rise heavily in the new year, affecting everybody’s pocket and wallet.
Finally, the Government say that they want to move forward on a repeal Bill in parallel with the Brexit negotiations. Whatever the timing of such legislation, for which the implementation will fall due in 2019 at the earliest, it should not distract from the overwhelming need for this Parliament to be in the driving seat for the negotiations, and to not be a left-behind passenger.
I thank both noble Baronesses, Lady Hayter and Lady Ludford, for their remarks. I am sorry that we are starting on a note of some discord and not harmony. I am sorry to sound a little like a cracked record, too, but the Government’s position on Article 50 is very clear and has remained so right from the moment of the referendum result: that the Government will exercise this measure under royal prerogative. As your Lordships will know, this matter is now before the courts; we are defending our position rigorously. We see a great difference between exercising this power under the royal prerogative and the whole act of withdrawing from the European Union and replacing powers in this House, which is to restore powers to this House overall. These two things are totally separate.
We will not exclude Parliament from this process. This is the second Statement that I have made—I am appearing before a number of your Lordships’ committees, as are my colleagues in the other place—and the point of it is to make clear the procedure by which this House and the other place will be involved in the process. It is clear that there will be extensive debate over the ECA Bill and, as I have said previously at this Dispatch Box, the Government will respect the legal and constitutional procedures and precedents that govern treaties and their ratification. On top of all that, there are other mechanisms for this House and the other place to hold the Government to account, one of which is the opposition day debate, which I believe will be held on Wednesday, so there is all manner of means of accountability.
On the means by which the Government are to be held to account before we even begin negotiations, again I ask noble Lords to just stop and think for a moment. Is it wise for the Government to set out their entire negotiating position in advance and then be bound by it? I ask noble Lords to pause and reflect on that. We obviously need to proceed in the national interest. That means ensuring we have enough room to manoeuvre, while keeping this House properly up to speed. That is our intent.
Secondly, on what we will negotiate, I can understand why the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, asked me about ruling out various options such as WTO. Again, I am not in a position at the Dispatch Box now or at any other moment in the next few weeks—dare I say months—to start ruling out this, that or the other. That would be exactly what those on the other side of the negotiating table would wish us to do and is why my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made it very clear we will not provide a running commentary. We have and will continue to set out our overarching aims. One of those aims is obviously to ensure that British firms and businesses continue to enjoy the maximum possible access to trade within Europe. That is that and I will not go further into it now.
Finally, on the economy, I understand what the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, said about what is happening currently on the currency markets but I will not speculate on that. However, under the stewardship of this Government and the previous one the economy is in robust health. It is doing very well and we continue to enjoy some very good economic statistics. I am sure that my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have more to say about that in the Autumn Statement to ensure that we protect and strengthen our position.
My Lords, I welcome the Minister’s Statement. He is quite right to emphasise how absurd it is for the Opposition to advocate that the actual aims of the negotiation should be paraded in public. When the Minister hears the Opposition preaching the merits of membership of—not access to—the single market, will he perhaps remind Members opposite that there are some disadvantages to such membership? These include the facts that we cannot make our own trade deals, that we must accept regulation applying not just those to firms that export to Europe but to the whole of the economy, and that we must make a significant financial contribution equal to 0.5% of GDP. These are significant things that cannot be wished away.
My noble friend makes some very wise points, coming from the position that I know he does. It is absolutely critical that as we go on we are very clear and precise in the terms we use. As he rightly said, there is a great difference between membership and access. In the debate over the last few weeks, people have become rather confused on this. I agree that it is critical that we are clear what we are talking about. On where we are going, as I said, I am not in a position at the Dispatch Box to go further in defining the Government’s course of action other than to say that clearly we are considering a whole range of options, but equally clearly it is in our interests to ensure that we get the maximum freedom for business to trade with and within the single market.
Would the Minister just clarify the timing? The Prime Minister has decided to go ahead with pressing the button for Article 50 by the end of March next year. Yet I heard from a very senior level of the Government at the time the referendum was declared last summer, “Why did you rush into this?”. We rushed into it because the Europeans told us, “Get it out of the way before the French and German elections”. Now we are rushing into it with the French and German elections, and we have two years in which to negotiate when their minds will be on their elections. Could the timing be explained?
On the prerogative, why is it that when a Prime Minister has a prerogative to go to war, every time—whether it is Iraq or Syria—they come to Parliament to approve it, yet in a situation like this, one of the most important decisions in 40 years, Parliament does not have a say? How can the Government say it was a definitive decision? It was 52:48. It was not 70:30 or 60:40 but 52:48. The instruction of the public was to leave—but on what basis? No immigration or reduced immigration? No contribution to the EU or reduced contribution to the EU? If it is not definite, why can we not have a say in helping the country to, in the words of the Statement, deliver prosperity for its people?
I say politely to the noble Lord as regards his second point: we are not going to have backsliding over the result of the referendum. The result was absolutely clear and we intend to deliver on it. As I said, there will be ample opportunity to hold me and my ministerial colleagues to account at this Dispatch Box and in the other place for the reasons I set out. As regards timing, I hear what the noble Lord says about the French and German elections and other events but I have to say to him: on the other side of the argument are those who say, quite rightly, that we need to have some certainty and some deliberate speed in getting on with this, and that we cannot be seen to be dragging our feet. That is why the Prime Minister has set out what I see as a very timely and measured approach to executing the instruction we have received.
Can the Minister reassure the House that nothing will appear in the great repeal Bill that will undermine the improvements in civil and political society in Northern Ireland and Ireland? That reassurance is needed soon and must guarantee that the beneficial border arrangements on the island of Ireland will not be removed.
The noble Lord makes an extremely good point. We already have had extensive discussions with the Irish Government and in Northern Ireland. We are all absolutely determined that we will not see a return to the past or to the hard border. As regards the repeal of the ECA, I entirely take his point on that. I would be happy to meet him to discuss any specific points he has on that. I think we are all aware of the sensitivities surrounding the situation in Northern Ireland and the Republic, so thoughts from the noble Lord and others on how best to proceed would be greatly appreciated.
My Lords, does the Minister accept that the two-year time period for Article 50 is an extremely short period, as most experts think, in which to negotiate a comprehensive free-trade agreement with the EU? Therefore, the key question becomes: what interim arrangement will the Government put forward? Will he assure the House that the Government have not ruled out as the interim arrangement full membership of the single market?
The noble Lord makes an interesting and very valid point. A week may be a long time in politics—God knows what two years is, therefore. Two years is a considerable amount of time, but he makes an important point. The matter of transitional arrangements, as has been widely reported, has been raised with the Government by businesses and business organisations, along with a number of other issues, concerns and thoughts that they have. We are considering them all. I am not going to start ruling in or out any of these points at the Dispatch Box now, but I assure him that his point has been noted.
My Lords, the question about Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is really a practical, immediate matter. It is my understanding that to avoid the reinstatement of the hard border, which would be very dangerous, we are proposing to have migration controls at Republic of Ireland ports of entry from other parts of the European Union. Can the Minister comment on that?
I think that my noble friend is referring to a story that appeared in one of the newspapers this morning. There is an existing high level of collaboration between the United Kingdom and Ireland to strengthen the external Common Travel Area. A whole range of processes is already under way. As I said a moment ago, we are in close discussion with our counterparts in the Republic and, obviously, in Northern Ireland itself to look at what else we might do, depending on the options we come up with. I am sorry to say that I cannot go further at this point.
My Lords, perhaps the Minister could give a little detail about the parliamentary scrutiny arrangements that will follow on from the repeal of the European Communities Act. The Statement spoke of putting elected politicians fully in control. Can he tell the House exactly how that will work with regard to the huge volume of legislation that is envisaged following the great repeal Act? Can he assure us that there will be full parliamentary scrutiny and that the great repeal Act will not be one great Henry VIII clause?
The noble Baroness makes an extremely valid point. I assure her and all your Lordships that we will give ample opportunity to this House to discuss the Bill and to look at the mechanisms that might be required to go into it to ensure that we have an orderly and smooth Brexit. As we speak, departments across Whitehall are looking at what might be required to be done to ensure that when we transpose EU law into UK law it is done in an orderly way, and to identify the amount of work that is required. I am already in conversations with a number of your Lordships about how the delegated powers that might need to be taken on might be exercised. I am completely aware that this matter will be of great interest to your Lordships and I fully intend to engage as closely as possible with as many noble Lords as possible beforehand.
My Lords, does the Minister believe that if we move Article 50 by March, as he indicates, we would have a right in circumstances where the negotiations were totally unsatisfactory to withdraw that application or is the situation that once we have moved it, we are stuck with it whatever the consequences?
All I will say is that we are intent on making a success out of this, and, once we have moved Article 50 and begun this process, to ensure that it is seen through successfully and smoothly.
My Lords, I hope that the Minister will not take it amiss if I say that we are no wiser, and certainly no better informed, as a result of this Statement. I again declare my interest as chancellor of the University of St Andrews. Where in the Statement, or in anything said by way of ministerial statements in Birmingham last week, is there any comfort for the universities of Great Britain as a consequence of our removal from the European Union if, as appears likely to be the case, we embark upon leaving it whatever the terms and conditions may be?
My Lords, I have had conversations with a number of representatives from the university sector. We discussed the concerns that they might have and my right honourable friend the Chancellor has addressed a number of those concerns as regards funding. They also spoke of issues such as migration and access to talent. I draw the noble Lord’s attention to what my right honourable friend the Secretary of State said in Birmingham last week. He made it perfectly clear that we are determined to ensure that, post-Brexit, this country has continued access to the talent that it requires to succeed, be that in any sector of the economy including the university sector. I have spoken personally to a number of university representatives to ensure that they come up with ideas as to how we might best do that.
My Lords, why does the Minister say that Parliament should remain in control after Brexit, quite rightly, but not before Brexit? This is not a question of seeking to overturn the referendum result nor of parading your negotiating credentials in public beforehand. It is about asserting Parliament’s fundamental right, including this House’s right, to approve the terms of Brexit because those were never spelt out by the leave campaign. People voted against remaining in Europe but not for anything. Surely Parliament should have the chance not just to scrutinise but to amend any proposal put to it on the terms of Brexit so that it is in the United Kingdom’s interest, in the view of Parliament.
I am very sorry to say that I disagree with the noble Lord on this. This Government have been given an instruction to deliver on Brexit and that is what we intend to do. I am loath to use the phrase “Don’t bind my hands” in relation to Europe but that would be the consequence of what he is attempting to do. We need to be able to negotiate in the nation’s interests: that means having the ability to negotiate the best deal for Britain.
My Lords, I invite the Minister to assist the House with regard to one particular aspect of Article 50. That aspect is paragraph 2, which the Minister will recollect says something of this order: that once notice has been given under Article 50, triggering the whole process, it is incumbent upon the European Commission and the leaving state to discuss matters with a view to coming to various agreements. It does not define the parameter of those agreements, which can be illimitable with regard to timing and to any other content. This is not a question of spelling out our specific position but, with regard to the choice or headings of matters to be negotiated, will the voice be heard at any stage of this mother of Parliaments, as enunciated through both Houses of Parliament?
My Lords, I am sorry to repeat what I have said but the voice of this House and the other House will certainly be heard in the process, as I have already set out. As we go through the negotiating process, I am sure that there will be ample opportunity to question me and my colleagues in the other place about how the negotiations are proceeding.
My Lords, is there not always a danger with referendums that they become the dictatorship of the majority and do not take into account minority interests, even when the minority is as large as 48%? Does my noble friend agree that we have a representative parliamentary system of democracy which defends minority interests, and that we therefore ought to play a full role in deciding exactly what was meant by the result in the referendum? The other point which ought to be made is that there is some danger of the negotiations becoming a kind of trade-off where you go for either the single market or free movement of people. As far as British industry and finance are concerned, it is entirely in their interests to secure satisfactory arrangements on both. We ought not to be making a trade-off between one and the other.
On the first point, I fear that I have little more to add. As regards financial services, my noble friend makes a very good second point. Again, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, my other ministerial colleagues and I have been meeting representatives of the financial sector. They have addressed their need for access to talent and access to markets, which brings us on to the issues of passporting and equivalence, and all those points. We are now considering all those matters and noting carefully the points that they are raising.
My Lords, the sentence in the Statement saying that the Government will convert legislation into UK law “wherever practical” gives little comfort to those of us who believe that workers’, consumers’ and environmental rights are best protected by membership of the European Union. I also go back to what the noble Lord on the Lib Dem Benches talked about in relation to universities. I declare my interest from the University of Bath, where I know that several people have already withdrawn their candidature from various posts because they are worried about not having a future in the university. Can the Minister say whether all those EU staff who are currently employed in British universities will be able to stay?
On the first point of “wherever practical”, I am more than happy to discuss with the noble Baroness any specific points that she might have. This is one of the reasons why we have made this announcement when we have: we need to take a long, hard look at what needs to be done to achieve our aim and to ensure that, when it comes to the day that we leave the EU, everyone knows exactly where they stand, mindful of our wishes to ensure that we have certainty and to protect workers’ rights, for example. If the noble Baroness wishes to raise specific points, I am more than happy to meet her. On her second point about universities and university staff withdrawing, I am obviously disappointed and saddened to hear that. The Government’s position on EU citizens and UK citizens overseas is clear. We very much hope to come to an agreement with the EU on the rights of UK citizens overseas and therefore of EU citizens here, and we see no reason why we should not be able to do so.
My Lords, as one living on the border between the United Kingdom and the Republic, I am very relaxed that both Governments—that of the United Kingdom and that in Dublin—want to retain the common travel area in the island of Ireland. We have no problem there. I am afraid that some people in London are exaggerating the issue. The border towns are booming not with bombs, I am glad to say, but with thousands of southern Irish shoppers coming into Northern Ireland every day to do their shopping following the depreciation of the pound. We are benefiting from the referendum decision. But what worries us is the situation in the Republic, which will be the worst hit EU country following Brexit because it is one of our main trading partners. Mushroom producers’ units are being closed and meat plants are in trouble. I therefore hope that in the forthcoming negotiations, the United Kingdom will be concerned about the economy in the Republic of Ireland because a bad economy there is not good for Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
I thank the noble Lord for his comments, especially given his extensive experience on this. Of course we are very conscious of all aspects regarding the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland when we enter these negotiations. I totally heed the point he makes.
I think there is a bit of a myth about the common travel area. Some say that the CTA ceased to exist when the UK and Ireland joined the EU. This is untrue. The CTA is specifically recognised in the 1997 treaty of Amsterdam and continues to be recognised in Protocol (No 20) on the application of certain aspects of Article 26. The protocol recognises,
“the existence for many years of special travel arrangements between the United Kingdom and Ireland”.
This is a point that we will obviously need to return to, but it is important to note.
What does the Minister think would be the reaction of the British people were the unelected Members of this House to attempt to thwart the clearly decided vote in the referendum in June?
I do not like to think of that very much. I suggest to those who wish to do so that they should humbly think again about what they might be embarking upon.
The Minister described the trading paradise that we are going to have when we leave the EU. Will he remind us of all those trips Prime Ministers, Chancellors, Secretaries of State for Business and other Ministers have made to further our trading interest in India, China and around the world? What is going to change? What are the Government going to do as a result of this removal from the European Union that is going to bring this trading Valhalla to us that has not been brought about in the past?
My Lords, I am sorry to say that I beg to differ. The opportunities now before us will be quite considerable. Just because we may have had some difficulties in the past does not mean we will have difficulties in future.