Theresa May prepares for Commons showdown with Tory rebels as Lords inflict yet another defeat on Brexit bill

Written by Kevin Schofield on 19 June 2018 in News

Peers have inflicted yet another defeat on the Government's flagship Brexit bill - and paved the way for a high-stakes Commons showdown between Theresa May and Tory rebels

Theresa May: Picture credit - Parliament TV

Peers have inflicted yet another defeat on the Government's flagship Brexit bill - and paved the way for a high-stakes Commons showdown between Theresa May and Tory rebels.

Following a heated debate, the House of Lords voted 354 to 235 in favour of an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would give MPs the power to intervene to prevent a no deal Brexit. Some 22 Tories rebelled against the Government to support it.

The amendment, which was tabled by Conservative peer Viscount Hailsham, is said to reflect the agreement chief rebel Dominic Grieve claims he and other MPs struck with Theresa May last week, but which she ditched at the last minute after protests from Brexiteers.

Hailsham said: "What I am doing is to ask your lordships to make a decision to allow the House of Commons to vote on what was agreed by Dominic Grieve."

The former Conservative minister, who described Brexit as "a national calamity", added: "What I believe is that the House of Commons should have a decisive say one way or another."

But he was attacked by his some of his fellow Tories, who accused him of trying to overturn the result of the EU referendum.

Former defence minister Lord Robathan said: "Could he say whether it remains his position that he wishes at all costs to destroy Brexit?"

That led one peer to declare: "You are an idiot."

Meanwhile, Lord True said: "The simple question is this - should any resolution have the affect of delaying or preventing the UK's departure from the European Union?

"It is time for us to respect the votes of 17.4 million in the referendum."

However, crossbench peer Lord Bilimoria said Grieve "deserves the parliamentary equivalent of the Victoria Cross" for his attempts to hold the Government to account on Brexit.

Peers inflicted 15 defeats on the EU Withdrawal Bill when it was last in the House of Lords.

Under the parliamentary "ping pong" procedure, the legislation will return to the Commons on Wednesday, when the latest Lords amendment will be voted on.

More than a dozen pro-EU Conservative MPs have threatened to rebel against the Government, which could be enough to inflict a catastrophic defeat on Mrs May.

Shadow Brexit minister Matthew Pennycook said: "The Lords have been forced to act to ensure Theresa May upholds the promise she made to Tory MPs.

"Labour has always maintained that Parliament should have the right to a genuinely meaningful vote on the terms of our exit from the EU. If the Prime Minister’s final Brexit deal is voted down that cannot give her licence to crash the UK out of the EU without an agreement.
 
"MPs now face a decisive vote on Wednesday to guarantee Parliament has a proper role in the Brexit negotiations and to take the threat of no deal off the table once and for all."

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