All 1 Lord Desai contributions to the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020

Read Bill Ministerial Extracts

Mon 19th Oct 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Lord Desai Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 19th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 29 September 2020 - (29 Sep 2020)
Lord Desai Portrait Lord Desai (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I will not speak to the legal aspects of the Bill, as I am not a lawyer, and that topic has been well covered. I will simply share with your Lordships my curiosity as to what made the Government try to enact this piece of legislation, which, as many have said, is totally outside the normal character of the constitutional behaviour of the United Kingdom. Some noble Lords have referred to this, but this arises out of historical and contemporary amnesia, which have struck the party in power.

First, let me say that I was a remainer, but I have always respected the decision of the people. However, we should notice one thing, which not many people have realised: that the decision in the referendum was more or less a decision by England, not by the United Kingdom. Of the 34 million votes cast, 18 million were for exit, and 16 million against, and 32 million were cast were cast by the English electorate. The difference in the English electorate, 17 million to 15 million, was exactly the final result margin of 2 million. So Brexit has always been an English decision, not that of the UK. Because the party in power has always been predominately an English party, it has begun to renege on devolution, in which it had no part. It was my party which initiated devolution, during the great Blair Government, and that is now being undermined.

The present party in power, 100 years ago, partitioned Ireland, creating Northern Ireland. At that time, as people may remember, the behaviour of the Conservatives when in opposition against the Liberals, and later when in coalition, almost amounted to subversion of the law, encouraging people in Northern Ireland to defy all manner of laws. Now we have come to a stage when the party in power has almost forgotten Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson inherited this proposition of Brexit, although of course he supported it. But I do not remember anybody at the time of the referendum discussion realising that the geography of the United Kingdom is not just England, Scotland and Wales. There is a region out there, Northern Ireland, which everybody forgot—that because Northern Ireland shares a border with the Republic and because we have signed an international treaty to keep that border open all the time, it was logically and legislatively impossible for Northern Ireland to leave the European Union and also have a free border. The logical and legal impossibility of the separation of Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland, while the Republic stayed within the European Union, was not, to my memory, ever discussed.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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My Lord, I remind you of the time, please.

Lord Desai Portrait Lord Desai (Lab) [V]
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I will stop.