On Monday 30th April, during Report Stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill, the House of Lords voted through by a majority of 111 a wrecking amendment designed to frustrate and reverse Brexit: this was clear from the speeches given in favour of Viscount Hailsham’s new clause. He pontificated that “this amendment is designed to ensure that the future of our country is determined by Parliament and not by Ministers”. But it is crystal clear that Parliament itself, including the House of Lords, agreed in the European Union Referendum Act 2015 deliberately to transfer the decision to remain or leave to the people of this country. The House of Lords has also agreed the Article 50 Act. Parliament has already decided, therefore, that it is the British people who must determine the future of our country and that is right. They decided to Leave the EU by the biggest vote in our history on the very clear question put before them in the referendum. There was no suggestion whatsoever in that question that Members of the House of Commons or indeed unelected Members of the House of Lords would then be given the right to either play fast and loose with that vote itself, to qualify it or to reverse it. Indeed, the House of Commons agreed to pass the Referendum Act itself by six to one. Lord Hailsham said of his new clause that “crucially, it preserves the primacy of the House of Commons”. But this is not the issue and he must know that. If the European Union continues such a belligerent attitude in the negotiations that they fail and there is no deal, then under Article 50 itself we will leave the European treaties lawfully as the Lisbon Treaty lays down. That would not be the fault of the Government or British people. What is dangerous is that the Hailsham proposal would shred the Government of its own inherent constitutional right to conduct negotiations as authorised by the Article 50 Act of Parliament and hand them over to the nonsense of a Through-the-Looking-Glass resolution of the House of Commons, which simply has no negotiating capacity of itself. Sending the Government back to the negotiating table on such a footing would be a monumentally irresponsible and unprecedented abdication of political responsibility of historic proportions. As there is no single opinion in the House of Commons, who would decide the terms of the motion? Such shenanigans would guarantee chaos – which no doubt was intended. This amendment is simply a device to reverse Brexit by chicanery. No self-respecting Member of Parliament could possibly vote for it, particularly those Remainer Tories who have already voted for the Bill. Customs Union and the Customs Partnership: Remainers don’t get it The previous Thursday saw Yvette Cooper bring a Backbench Business Motion on the Customs Union issue before the House of Commons. Just as Lord Kerr of Kinlochard and Lord Patten of Barnes got their figures wrong in the House of Lords during their debate on the Customs Union on 18th April, this Commons debate on customs, trade and Northern Ireland generated a great deal of low-grade analysis. Yvette Cooper showed her blatant disregard for the substance by saying that she wanted to “avoid disputes about grammar”. Oh really? The differences between the Customs Union, a Customs Union, a Customs Partnership and a Customs Arrangement cannot be recklessly ducked. Equally, it was simply wrong for Ken Clarke to claim in the debate that “there are no advantages in producing regulatory differences between our market and the European market”. The European Commission itself has admitted that 90% of future world GDP growth will be outside the EU. This is where we have so much to gain within the Anglosphere and including the United States and the Commonwealth, as Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister of Australia, and the Foreign Minister from Singapore, amongst many others, have made clear. This is through our common language, common legal frameworks and by having the right to decide our own international global trading arrangements. It is from the wealth that we will achieve from these international trading arrangements that we will derive the revenue to pay for our public services and the running of our own democracy on our own terms. Unshackled from any restrictive customs arrangement – including a Customs Partnership – we have a massive opportunity in a new future. The Remainers and Reversers in both Houses of Parliament have no confidence in the capacity of the British people to deliver prosperity and global trade, as we have for centuries before being subsumed in the European Union – and suffering massive trade deficits (reaching £82 billion in 2016) with the EU27. There would be worse to come. Furthermore, the motion deliberately referred only to trade in goods because Remainers and Reversers know that their case collapses when they ignore services, which the ONS most emphatically would not contemplate. A Customs Union or Partnership offers zero advantage whatsoever for trade in services. The EU has used the joint salvo of the Customs Union and Single Market to directly restrict our services industry because they are terrified by real competition from British firms. Northern Ireland was also central to the Yvette Cooper motion. What its proponents ignored was that the head of Irish customs has said that it is “practically 100% certain” there would be no customs facilities along the border. Jon Thompson, Permanent Secretary at HMRC, said “it is perfectly possible that absolutely nothing happens at the border”. David Trimble has said it “is not true that Brexit in any way threatens the peace process… The border has never gone away entirely… There is no reason it can’t continue to be policed without hard barriers, even after Brexit”. The EU is using the Irish border question – to the despair of many other member states – simply as a scaremongering tactic against us in the negotiations. Last week a memorandum was released criticising the concept of the proposed New Customs Partnership, the idea which was sent back to the drawing board. The website of the European Foundation now includes the full text of that memorandum which you can find here. This website also sets out the case ‘Why we had to leave the European Union’, which explains just how dangerously undemocratic the EU is at present and which, if we did not leave, would be even more lethal in the future to the UK.