Lord Greaves has faced criticism for going "a step too far" in comparing Brexit Britain to Nazi Germany.

The Liberal Democrat peer also claimed people were crying themselves to sleep at night over the UK's withdrawal from the EU, as he warned against "triumphalistic behaviour".

He made his comments as peers at Westminster started their line-by-line scrutiny of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which will enable the UK to leave the EU on January 31.

Lord Greaves said there were many people in the country "full of dismay and distress" over the break with Brussels.

As some Conservative Tory peers signalled their dissent, he continued: "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.

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


Lord Greaves said: "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 said: "I am particularly concerned about what the Government are doing about the prevention of discrimination in the transition period or the implementation period—call it what you will.

"I am fearful that on 31 January some things may happen in some places that could be reminiscent of events in Germany in the early 1930s. I am worried about this because there is that sentiment among a hostile minority of the population. I would like to know what the Government are doing to try to stop that happening."

But challenging him, Brexit-supporting Labour peer Lord Grocott said:  "The noble Lord just made a comparison—I am slightly reeling from it—between Britain on 1 February of this year and Nazi Germany in 1933. Could he elaborate on that a little, because that seems to me to be stretching the point a bit?"

Responding, Lord Greaves said: "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."

He added: "It happened immediately after the referendum and I am very worried indeed that on February 1 and 2 there will be a wave of this kind of thing.

"Police statistics show that the amount of racially-motivated offences has increased significantly since June 2016. I am not making it up. It is happening."

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Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said: "To compare January 31 to Nazi Germany, I think, is rather a step too far."

But Lord Greaves said: "I have not compared this country today with Nazi Germany and would not do so obviously, it would be ridiculous.

"What I am saying is that some of the conditions which exist in this country are similar to conditions which existed in Germany between the wars, before the Nazis came to power and took over.

"You can think that's right, you can think it's wrong, but I believe that that is the case."