Peer fears incidents on Brexit day reminiscent to those in ‘early 1930s Germany’

PUBLISHED: 14:10 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:29 17 January 2020

Lord Greaves in the House of Lords debates the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Photograph: House of Lords.

Lord Greaves in the House of Lords debates the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Photograph: House of Lords.

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A Liberal Democrat peer has warned that events on January 31st could lead people to believe they have a license to do things ‘reminiscent of things happening in Germany in the early 1930s’.

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Lib Dem Lord Greaves told the House of Lords he fears that Brexiteers will engage in "triumphalistic behaviour" on January 31st as prominent politicians argue over the best way to mark the Brexit departure date.

As peers debate the Withdrawal Agreement Bill the Brexiteers are crowdfunding £500,000 to get Big Ben to bong at 11pm, while Nigel Farage is trying to get a fireworks display at his event in Parliament Square.

The government itself is pressing ahead with plans for a 'festival of Brexit Britain' in 2020 at a cost of £120 million.

But Greaves has warned against Leavers revelling in the departure of the UK from the EU while a large percentage remain "full of dismay and distress".

"People are crying when they go to sleep at night and when they wake up in the morning, and all they get from the unfeeling, hard-headed Tories is moans.

"They are feeling a sense of loss which is akin to bereavement and a grieving process has only just begun."

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He added: "In these circumstances, triumphalistic behaviour, festivals of Brexit and all the rest will simply make things worse.

"The people who are feeling it worst are those citizens of the EU who live, work and take part in our communities."

He went on: "I am particularly concerned about what the Government is doing about prevention of discrimination in the transition period.

"I am fearful that on January 31 some things may happen in some places which could be reminiscent of things happening in Germany in the early 1930s.

Accused by one peer of "stretching his point", he responded: "Well, we will see. What we do know is that the day after the referendum people had their windows put in. People were abused in the street. Paint was daubed on people's houses. It's that kind of thing I am talking about.

"I know of plenty of instances where people have been abused in the street and shouted at.

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"Even more instances when people have, quite kindly, said to people, 'I suppose you'll be ​going home now.'

"That is happening all the time. It happened immediately after the referendum and I am very worried that on 1st and 2nd February there will be a wave of this kind of thing.

"Police statistics show that the number of racially motivated offences has increased significantly since June 2016. I am not making it up; it is happening. Noble Lords who perhaps live a sheltered life might get out there a bit more and find out what is going on."

Greaves has proposed an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the Lords to ensure Boris Johnson keeps his promises over the future of EU citizens living in the UK.

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