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by Jenni Davidson
10 November 2020
UK Government suffers defeat in House of Lords over Internal Market Bill

House of Lords - Image credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

UK Government suffers defeat in House of Lords over Internal Market Bill

The UK Government has suffered a heavy defeat in the House of Lords over its controversial Internal Market Bill.

Peers voted overwhelmingly – by 433 votes to 165 – to remove the part of the bill that would allow ministers to break international law.

They also voted by 407 votes to 148 to remove another clause that allows the UK Government to override parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement relating to Northern Ireland.

Forty-four Conservative peers voted against the government.

The government said the clauses were a “safety net” and it would reinstate them when the bill returns to the House of Commons next month.

A UK Government spokesman said: “We will re-table these clauses when the bill returns to the Commons.

“We've been consistently clear that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK's internal market and the huge gains of the peace process.

“We expect the House of Lords to recognise that we have an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland to make sure they continue to have unfettered access to the UK under all circumstances.”

The Scottish Government said the vote was confirmation that the controversial bill, which also affects devolution, should be dropped.

Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs Mike Russell said: “This vote is further confirmation that the UK Government must drop its deeply flawed Internal Market Bill.

“Not only is the bill a flagrant breach of international law it also fundamentally undermines devolution.

“The EU has made it clear the clauses which flout the Withdrawal Agreement are unacceptable.

“If the UK Government insists on reinstating them they face condemning Scotland and the UK to a no deal Brexit.

“But we should not forget that the Internal Market Bill is also an unprecedented threat to the Scottish Parliament’s powers and the UK’s constitutional rules and it should be rejected on those grounds as well.

“The UK Government must start listening to the growing clamour of dissent opposition and change course immediately given the fundamental damage the bill is doing.”

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