My Lords, we must organize, not agonise. This is not the time for your Lordship’s House to agonise, but to organize a smooth journey of this Bill, to allow Her Majesty’s Government to trigger Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union. Speculation is not Legislation. The reality is that until this Bill is passed into Law, all that has happened since the Brexit vote remains speculation. The Bill must become Law, in order to implement the Referendum result and respect the judgement of the Supreme Court.
Brexit is a process, not an event. The passing of this Bill is an essential part of this process. We are privileged to be engaged in the most important season in British history since World War Two.
But as the Prime Minister, Theresa May, stated on 17 January, “We are leaving the European Union, but not leaving Europe”. For example, despite Brexit we will remain an influential permanent member of the UN Security Council, the second largest contributor to NATO after America and a leading member of the G7, G20 and the Commonwealth.
However, we are now seeking partnerships no longer dictated by Europe. This is the opportunity to become a truly Global Great Britain. My wife is American and between us we have at least 7 nationalities in our family. On her side is Swedish, Cherokee and Texan. On my side is Caribbean, Irish, Indian and of course Birmingham. Recently Lady Taylor and I were guests of Congress on Capitol Hill, Washington DC and at a Dinner addressed by the Vice President, Michael Pence. There was also an invitation to President Trump’s National Prayer Breakfast. At this landmark event the only people allowed were the President of the United States of America and me….oh and about 2,000 other guests!
I had the privilege to be interviewed by Fox News and other American media. It was most striking to me from these experiences that our biggest single trading partner America, as a result of the Referendum, clearly now has Britain very much at the front of its trading queue. So the Americans and other huge trading partners such as China and India are watching very closely whether we seize the opportunity that Brexit now gives us. This is not the time to dither and delay.
For your Lordships House not to pass this Bill would be missing an amazing Open Goal. But unlike football, we cannot rely on extra time or a replay. In order to win for global Britain we have to stride forward and score that greater goal now.
The prizes ahead for winning are clear: First and foremost Control of our own laws, with the end of the European Court of Justice overruling British courts. It will strengthen the Union between the four nations of this United Kingdom, by returning power back to Westminster and the devolved administrations. We will be able to control Immigration, to attract the brightest and the best to work or study here. There will be a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, no longer shackled by the EU’s Single Market and no longer burdened by paying huge sums to the EU budget. Britain will become a truly global trading nation, making trade agreements around the world, including the 52 nations of the Commonwealth, free from the constraints of EU Customs Union membership. The result will not only be a stronger Great Britain, but lead to a stronger Europe and stronger World.
I am from a diverse racial background and admire the contrasting cultures and languages within the European Union. But the EU has 24 official languages: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish. Then there are the classified semi-official languages, including Basque and Catalan; Let us not forget also the main Immigrant languages including Russian, Berber, Turkish and Kurdish. Each language brings with it a different identity and understanding. The EU has become a bureaucratic Tower of Babel, where complexity and confusion increasingly frustrates co-operation.
Compare this with the 52 nations of the Commonwealth family, who possess the spirit of Great Britain. They are one third of the world’s population. The Commonwealth nations share an immensely rich and enduring history and culture, with English as a common language and the same Sovereign, in Her Majesty The Queen. The timing of this Bill is excellent, since Britain is due to host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHGOM) in 2018.
As for the European Atomic Energy Community, if it is not possible to negotiate with the EU some sort of future relationship with Euratom, it will no doubt be possible to reach an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency itself, of which we are still a member. On the 31 January, the Minister for Exiting the European Union, David Davis MP, stated “ We will maintain the closest possible nuclear co-operation with the European Union.”
My Lords, this Bill is not a leap into the dark. When Fear knocks at our door, we must answer it with Faith. In doing so, we have the assurance of Proverbs 16 v 9 which states: “People make their plans, but God directs their steps”. It was Sir Winston Churchill who said, “History will be kind to me, because I will write it.” Brexit has forever rewritten British history. Now, through this Bill, we can make Great Britain, Greater Britain.