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by Nicholas Mairs
21 March 2018
UK Government defeated by Lords over EU nuclear cooperation

Hinkley Point - PA

UK Government defeated by Lords over EU nuclear cooperation

The UK Government has been defeated twice over its plans to break with nuclear co-operation with the EU after Brexit.

Peers voted by 265 to 194 to insist Britain should not withdraw from Euratom on the day the UK leaves the EU unless a replacement has been reached.

Ministers were dealt a second blow through a Labour amendment which demanded more regular reporting to parliament of future arrangements.

With Liberal Democrat and crossbench support, it was approved by 244 votes to 194.

The bill will now return to the Commons for further consideration by MPs, who will likely try to overturn the changes.

Ministers have insisted the UK must leave the European nuclear agreement as part of its overall withdrawal from the EU, but say Britain wants to retain nuclear cooperation through its own system.

Former Labour minister Lord Hutton, who is chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “It’s good to have a default, good to have a back-up.”

He said: “I don’t think any of us should take a gamble or a risk with the energy security of our country.”

Meanwhile Lord Warner, who sits as an independent crossbencher, and is also a former Labour minister, said the Government was playing “Russian roulette” with the UK’s energy security.

“Clearly a responsible government would stay in Euratom and not risk the disruption and uncertainty to a critical industry that departure brings, but not this one,” he added.

Energy minister Lord Henley said Brexit was a "done deal" and that the UK was "on track" to secure a number of agreements with other countries.

“I believe we remain on track to ensure these agreements will be in place in time,” he said.

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