In this second contribution for day 4 of the Report Stage, Lord Bilimoria notes several of the areas around the issue of a deal or no deal option as well people’s understanding of their reasons to vote to leave. He highlights that many members of the House of Lords, at the forefront of the issue, are still learning themselves and that people will be even more informed by next year. He argues the Government are telling people that there is no choice but to follow their decisions which he argues is disrespecting the will of the British people.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 

30 April 2018

Lord Bilimoria:

My Lords, when the noble Lord, Lord Newby, spoke to Amendment 50, he spoke about a spell. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, that there is one reason why we need this amendment: as he made very clear on the last amendment, the Government are giving us the option of deal or no deal—to crash out on WTO rules. The noble Lord, Lord Butler, said that that was not acceptable. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, how it can be fair to give people a yes/no vote. The noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, compares it with the AV referendum: that was a very simple result; this is a yes/no, leave on any basis. There is no way that the people would have agreed to that on 23 June 2016 with four months’ notice. It is said that people know the reasons why they left with four months’ notice. We in this House are all in the thick of it, still learning almost two years later. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, said we are all more informed. A year from now, on 29 March, people will be even more informed.

The Government have given people the impression that there is no other option. When I give speeches, such as the one I gave this morning at Imperial College, I ask the audience, if you were given a chance to remain, would you remain? They say, “Do we have a choice?” And all the hands go up saying they want to remain. Yet the Government are driving this Brexit juggernaut off a cliff. When it comes to the British people having a choice as to whether to go over that cliff, the Government say, no, you have no choice, you are like lemmings who will have to follow us over that cliff. Is it fair to the British public? Is this respecting the will of the people? I say that it is disrespecting the British people.

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