The referendum campaign, and its aftermath, revealed deep divisions, my Lords, in our society, as the Noble Lord, Lord Hain, has rightly commented; and like him, this feels like the most divided country that I have lived in in my lifetime.
Whatever the outcome of the next two years, our nation’s future – particularly for the most vulnerable – will be profoundly damaged if we arrive in 2019 even more divided, without a common vision to confront the opportunities and challenges before us. To meet these opportunities and challenges – in every aspect of policy and every level of society– we must find a level of national reconciliation. So how we conduct this process is as important as the outcome itself.
I believe it would be dangerous and unwise and wrong to reduce the substance of the terms on which we exit the European Union to the result of a binary yes-no choice taken last summer – and the Government should avoid any inclination to oversimplify the outcome of the most complex peacetime negotiations, probably ever.
But neither is the complexity of a further referendum a good way of dealing with the process at the end of negotiation. It will add to our divisions. It will deepen the bitterness. It is not democratic. It is unwise….