Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Lord Lilley:

    I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. What I said was that the drop in the pound would compensate those whose tariffs were around the average of 4%, but that, in aggregate, the tariffs amount to £5.3 billion. The saving we make from leaving is more than £10 billion. We would therefore be in a position to help those who face above-average tariffs and still have money in hand.

    Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town:

    So the consumers will pay. Just an extra 5% on tariffs? Are we really going to go round subsidising food?

    Lord Lilley:

    With respect, the money we save will not come from consumers; it will just no longer be available to the EU to finance its projects. Every year, we pay £10 billion more to the EU than it gives us back. We will no longer do so, and will therefore be in a position to use some of that money to help those industries—particularly farmers and car producers—and ensure that the effect of tariffs, if the EU is foolish enough to continue applying them to us, is offset.

    Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town:

    I am talking about the tariffs that we will have to apply to the goods that we import, such as meat and cheese. Those will be paid for by consumers. The Government’s own analysis shows the likelihood of food shortages and increased prices just from the interruption to trade, but a lower pound—whereby people will have less money in their pockets to buy any imported food—means that, in addition to prices going up because of shortages and delays in things arriving here, it will be even more expensive for consumers. The answer to “Who pays?” will be the consumers.

    For those wanting to travel, mile-long queues for Eurostar trains, long waits at ferries, green cards for drivers and the loss of health cover will all impact British families. Does this no longer matter to a party traditionally careful of consumer prices and its electorate? The noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, warned last year in your Lordships’ House of the electoral damage to his own much-loved and lived-in party. This continuing drift to no deal must be fuelling his fears. It is certainly fuelling mine, as well as those of the CBI, the IoD and all those affected by the Government’s recklessness.

    …later…

    Lord Lilley:

    I am sure the noble Lord will want to congratulate Toyota on opening in this country a year later—in October last year—a line producing the best-selling car in the world, opened by the Secretary of State. That shows a rather different picture to that he was portraying.

    Lord Kerr of Kinlochard:

    I wait to see what will be the fate of its massive investments in Deeside and in Derbyshire, both of which are very important. I am concerned; I know the company is concerned. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, has worked very hard to secure investment in this country and must be very sad.

    The noble Lord, Lord Newby, started with a Churchillian quotation, which put me on my mettle. I was determined to match him. I can just beat him on vintage; mine is a 1936 quotation. Churchill described Chamberlain as,

    “decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift”.—[Official Report, Commons, 12/11/1936; col. 1107.]

    As we kick the can down the road, somehow it came to mind. It is actually quite unfair to Mrs May; it was probably unfair to Chamberlain too. What is more striking about Mrs May is her messianic, Mosaic mission, and her determination not to listen to anybody else. I am impressed by her belief that she knows all the answers, and does not have to pay attention to any of us.

    …later…

    The Bishop of Oxford:

    My Lords, I always rise to speak in this Chamber with some fear and trepidation but never more so than today: not only because of the expertise, passion and conviction in this Chamber but also the jeopardy in which we find ourselves as a nation and a Parliament. My journey through the Brexit process is that for seven years until the referendum year, I was the bishop in Sheffield and south Yorkshire, where some of the communities voted by almost 70% to leave the European Union. I moved shortly afterwards to the diocese of Oxford, where the three counties, by and large, are significantly in favour of remain.

    I suspect that historians will look back on this process and focus not so much on the calling of the referendum or even the referendum itself but on the long period of indecision and paralysis that has followed. I spent some time in Canterbury Cathedral some weeks ago and stood on the place where Thomas Becket was murdered. We were reminded in the cathedral of Eliot’s play “Murder in the Cathedral”. In his moment of great peril and jeopardy, Becket is visited by four tempters who, in the play, become his four assassins.

    I think four significant temptations have grown in proportion to become dangerous assassins facing Parliament in the coming weeks. The first is to allow our course to be shaped by self-interest and personal ambition. This Brexit debate has been marred from the beginning, it seems, by the narrow calculation of those hoping to gain or retain high office. From the perspective of the country, nothing has undermined trust in our politics more than this untrammelled ambition, which is apparent to all.

    Lord Lilley:

    Who is the right reverend Prelate accusing of this untrammelled ambition which is apparent to all?

    The Bishop of Oxford:

    I prefer not to name names.

    Lord Lilley:

    Even though it is apparent to all?

    The Bishop of Oxford:

    I do not single out a particular party or a section of a particular party. One of the dangers of our politics at present is that personal ambition is being put before the country and I think we need to draw that period to an end with great urgency, lest our politics and our confidence in democracy be damaged for a very long time. Conversely, nothing will restore trust in our politics more than putting the interests of the nation ahead of personal position.

    The second temptation is to allow yourself to be swayed by narrow party interests and the pursuit of or retention of power in the short term. The issues at stake here are much greater than the rise and fall of particular parties or factions. We need our MPs and Peers to act in the greater national interest and for national unity. I would argue that Parliament needs to come together if the nation is to come together and emerge from this long period of division and introspection.

    The third temptation is nostalgia—a romantic attachment to the past. It is wrong to imagine that we can reverse the effects of one referendum by another or go back to a time before the Brexit debates began, when all was well, or go back still further to a different age of independence and imagined glory. We cannot. We must deal with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be, and steer our course accordingly; the leadership that we offer will be judged by this measure.

    The fourth and final temptation is idealism: in a world of difficult choices and necessary compromise, holding on to an ideal which is no longer tenable, whether it is a particular kind of leaving or remaining or something else. This, it seems to me, is currently the greatest barrier to positive cross-party consensus. A coming together across Parliament is impossible without the willingness to compromise, and one of the encouraging features of recent weeks has been cross-party engagement.

    As others have said, there are huge issues facing our world and our country: climate chaos, care for the poorest, increasing equality and opportunity, our changing relationship with technology, and the challenge of social care and health funding. We cannot allow our national attention to be diverted from these issues by prolonging still further a series of adjustments to our relationship with Europe. The nation is looking to its political leaders for a strong, compelling and united vision of the future that enables us to see beyond these debates in a way that brings unity and common purpose.

    The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken in this House about the vital importance of reconciliation in these debates and the protection of the poorest in society. The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York has written of the need to preserve trust and confidence in our democratic institutions through a time of significant national jeopardy. I hope and pray that, in the midst of these difficult debates, we will be able to turn aside from those four temptations, seek meaningful compromise and act for the common good. I underscore the request to the Minister to lay out for us the ways in which the Government will continue to foster cross-party collaboration and listening, move towards a positive consensus and work to draw Parliament and the country back together.

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