United Kingdom government disappointed by Lords votes on Brexit laws, vows robust action

Steve Phelps
May 4, 2018

The cross-party amendment, with the support of 19 rebel Conservative MPs, was passed with a majority of 91 MPs and granted parliament the power to send legislators back to Brussels should the Brexit deal by May be voted down by MPs.

The Government has suffered a heavy defeat in the House of Lords after rebel peers backed a "wrecking amendment" which threatens to weaken Theresa May's negotiating hand and prevent the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

But her European Union immigration plans, published in The Independent and The Sunday Times, suggests she is watering down her red line to regain control of Britain's borders.

"We are disappointed that the House of Lords has voted for this amendment inspite of the assurances we have provided", said Lord Martin Callanan, Britain's Minister for Exiting the EU.

If it comes into force, it will "tie the hands" of the government, critics say, and could result in Brexit being thwarted altogether, as MPs overwhelmingly back remaining inside the bloc - against the wishes of the British people.

During the debate, Tory spokesman Lord Callanan said Parliament's vote would be binding and if it did reject the deal, the Article 50 process - determining the timetable for leaving - would "kick in" and the United Kingdom would leave.

"I don't think there is a customs union that could ever be acceptable", he added.

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He said: "If Parliament votes down the Article 50 deal, then Parliament must decide what happens next".

"Second, it demands specific votes by artificial deadlines which, if not met, would give parliament the power to micromanage the government on how to carry out these negotiations".

Mr Davis also suggested that by October it could be possible to get a clear sense of the sort of trade deal which the United Kingdom and European Union will do, which would make the backstop less important.

But Labour said the vote marked a "hugely significant moment" in the fight to ensure Parliament has a "proper role" in the Brexit negotiations and a no-deal situation was avoided.

The former Tory minister Viscount Hailsham said: "In democracies both Parliament and the electorate have the right to change their minds".

The amendment is opposed by the government and can be overturned in parliament's lower chamber, where May has a slim majority.

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