"In exercising a judgement about Europe we have to decide what sort of people we are, what role we believe our country should play, what inheritance we should pass on."
Lord Michael Heseltine spoke passionately about the need for a Final Say in the House of Lords.
I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, who felt that watching the Prime Minister’s party conference speech this morning was a waste of time. Far from it. First, he is without any shadow of doubt the best music hall turn in politics, and it was full of great jokes.
But it also revealed very clearly what the strategy is, and what it has been since day one of his premiership: to combine an agenda of right-wing hard-line politics with Brexit to try to get it through a general election campaign by attracting back Nigel Farage’s supporters. It is as blindingly obvious as that. You had only to listen to the speech today, in which the ultimate target was Jeremy Corbyn. But Boris has got it wrong. Jeremy Corbyn is probably the only person on the Labour Benches who actually agrees with Boris about Brexit. To focus on Corbyn is completely to miss the point.
The real problem for the Conservative Government led by Boris Johnson is the Conservatives. It was Conservatives in the ERG who would not support the previous Prime Minister, which frustrated her ability to get a deal. It is the sacking of 22 of the more renowned members of the Conservative Party by this Prime Minister that has removed the majority on which he would otherwise exist.
There are two audiences for every party conference. Without doubt, the hall erupted. I know what it is like; it is a wonderful feeling. But there is a second audience, and that is the audience with which this Government should be concerned. I have indicated the parliamentary consequences of what is happening, but there are millions of Conservatives who are now voting for the Liberal Democrats, because they will not swallow the line that is peddled about Brexit.
So, I go back to the Prime Minister’s speech:
“Let’s get Brexit done, and let’s bring this country together”.
"This country is more divided, more fundamentally, in more directions, than I have ever seen it in my life."
This country is more divided, more fundamentally, in more directions, than I have ever seen it in my life. The idea that we are going to give up our position of influence across the Atlantic, across the Commonwealth and within Europe and mould it all together in one by standing isolationist as an individual nation state is unreal in the changing world of today. The idea that President Trump is going to do a soft option for Britain’s trade in a pre-election period in America is a delusion of the most naive sort. The idea that 2.6 billion inhabitants of the Commonwealth are longing to open their trade doors to us while the Home Secretary is clamping down on the immigration that they want to encourage into our country is another delusion. And the idea that the Conservative Government are risking the future of the United Kingdom itself, on a dogma that was driven by extreme populism, is to me unbelievable. We need to go back to the people for an endorsement of the decision and, much better, its rejection.
You can read the full speech from Lord Michael Heseltine here.
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