‘Trust the people’ - East Anglian peers have their say on Brexit

Baroness Murphy of Aldgate

Baroness Murphy of Aldgate - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

An East Anglian peer has warned advocates of a second European Union referendum that they are 'playing with fire'.

Labour peer Lord Howarth of Newport, who lives in Norfolk and backed Brexit, said public disaffection from politics would 'become a crisis' if the democratic decision to leave was not respected.

He was one of more than 180 members of the House of Lords from across the region who spoke in a two-day debate which looked set to culminate in a victory for prime minister Theresa May in the first key test for her Brexit Bill.

Peers were due to give the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill a second reading - but the opposition parties have pledged to try to amend the legislation in its later stages before the prime minister can trigger Article 50 to begin the Brexit negotiations by the end of March.

Independent crossbencher Baroness Murphy, who also lives in Norfolk, described the referendum result as a 'vaguely anti-foreigner vote' and insisted: 'We should be full members of the EU however imperfect.'

But former Suffolk MP and Conservative peer Lord Framlingham urged the government to 'trust the people'.

'I suspect that the votes cast in this referendum were given more careful consideration than any cast in this country in living memory, and to doubt the genuineness of people's decisions is to do them, in my view a great disservice,' he said, adding the future of the House of Lords depended a decision to make a success of Brexit.

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Lord Craig of Radley, a former chief of the defence staff who now lives in Norfolk, told peers the European Union may not be a 'stable and unified entity' in two or three years time.

'The euro problems are not resolved, migration flows may further stress relationships throughout continental Europe, and the prospect that several parliamentary and leadership elections are imminent this year may also presage a potentially very different negotiating climate, and replacement interlocutors for Article 50,' he said as he warned the government needed to consider how it would face a lack of unanimity in among EU nations.

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