One of Britain’s most pro-European Union (EU) members of the establishment has introduced an amendment to the European Union Referendum Bill which would compel the government to publish a report detailing what life after a British exit from the EU would look like just weeks ahead of the crucial vote. Brexit campaigners have slammed the amendment as a “cynical” ploy which risks “warping” the debate ahead of the referendum.
The amendment to the EU Referendum Bill seeks to compel “The Secretary of State [to] report on the relationship with the European Union which the Government envisage in the event of a referendum vote to leave the European Union, and on the acceptability of this arrangement to every European Union member state […] no later than 12 weeks prior to the appointed date of the referendum.”
It will now be discussed at the committee stage before being debated and voted upon, likely next year.
It was introduced by Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, a former ambassador to the EU and Secretary General to the EU Convention. Lord Kerr has continued to pursue his interests in the EU, sitting as the current chairman of the Centre for European Reform, which describes itself as “a think-tank devoted to making the European Union work better and strengthening its role in the world.”
He is also the current Vice President of the European Policy Centre, which proclaims as its mission statement a commitment “to fostering European integration through analysis and debate.”
Rory Broomfield, director of the Better Off Out campaign, severely criticised the amendment, calling it a “cynical attempt to help the Remain campaign from a europhile member of the unelected House of Lords.”
He explained: “After the vote to leave the EU the government could go into a two year negotiation with the EU over renewed terms. Publishing the proposed document before these negotiations have even started, and before the EU referendum vote itself, both pre-empts these negotiations and also risks warping the public debate.”
“As a lifelong bureaucrat, Lord Kerr would never have liked negotiations to be pre-empted,” he added.
“He would also hate being told to negotiate on hypothetical terms. Why is it one rule for him and another for the British public? The only possible reasons I can think that would explain his change of mind are his connections to the pro-EU Centre for European Reform and an understanding that the arguments on the pro-EU side are so bad that they have to make them up.”