Published: Tue, May 01, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Rebel Tory peers deal a fresh Brexit blow to PM

Rebel Tory peers deal a fresh Brexit blow to PM

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.

This means the Government would be effectively prevented from taking Britain out of the bloc without any deal at all - the so-called "no deal" scenario. Tory and Labour sources alike regard it as the most significant defeat to the Brexit Bill in the Lords.

Mrs May's Government has already indicated ministers will push back hard against the changes, which would need to to approved by the Commons before becoming law.

The government suffered an eighth defeat when lawmakers backed an amendment requiring ministers to seek parliamentary approval for their negotiating mandate in the next round of Brexit talks on Britain future relationship with the bloc. The truth is if we want parliament to have a truly meaningful vote we have to insist on it.

A total of 335 Lords backed the amendment while 244 voted against it.

It was the government's seventh defeat during the Report stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and several more are forecast.

"It is not a mechanism for overturning the referendum".

The move was supported by 19 Conservative peers who rebelled against their party.

Mrs May's difficulties are compounded by the fact that she has a wafer-thin majority in the Commons and relies on support from Unionist MPs in Northern Ireland.

But Britain also says it will leave the EU's tariff-free customs union.

The government was defeated in the vote on the amendment which will allow parliament to alter the final Brexit settlement if the deal is rejected by parliament. "It is a well established feature of our constitution that the executive represents the country in global diplomacy".

The government said it was disappointed.

"At worst, it could reverse the British people's decision and keep us in the European Union".

Mr Baker said he and his fellow ministers were "disappointed" with the House of Lords vote claiming, if the amendment is accepted by the House of Commons, it would "hand unprecedented constitutional powers to Parliament to direct the Government in these negotiations and to direct the Government to do anything, even keeping the United Kingdom in the European Union indefinitely".

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

"The speeches in favour of them have turned me against the amendment".

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