Lords defeat Brexit bill again
Members of the unelected upper chamber voted by 354 to 235, a hefty majority of 119, to give parliament a “meaningful vote” on any final Brexit deal reached with Brussels.
It is believed to be the fourth largest turnout in a Lords vote on record.
There were 22 Conservative rebels in the Lords who backed a new amendment, including the former deputy prime minister Lord Michael Heseltine and former ministers Lord Chris Patten and Lord David Willetts.
The vote kicks the issue back to the Commons in parliamentary “ping pong”.
Lord Hailsham, Quintin Hogg, said the government had failed to deliver its promise to provide a “meaningful vote” on the Brexit deal and it was up to the upper house to insist on it to give MPs another chance to debate the issue.
The vote means the amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill will now be passed back to the lower house for a vote tomorrow (Wednesday) with anti-Brexit Conservative rebels warning they are prepared to vote against the government.
Dominic Grieve, the Conservative MP and former attorney general, said on Sunday that the rebels could “collapse” the government if they disagreed with the final outcome of the withdrawal talks.
The government won an emergency debate in the Commons on how repatriated powers should be distributed after Brexit.
Scottish Nationalist Party MPs said the Sewel convention, which underpins the devolution settlement, was now unworkable.
The SNP’s leader in the Commons, Ian Blackford, said the government was stabbing Scotland in the back with Brexit legislation.
Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said the government was adhering to the principles of devolution by pushing ahead with the withdrawal bill, despite Scotland’s opposition. Lidington said the package was a compromise and balanced.
Under the Sewel convention, Westminster does not normally legislate on devolved matters without the Scottish government’s approval.
Lord John Sewel said the “size and scale” of Brexit as an issue meant the UK government must be able to act “on initiative”.
And he said the situation was “not a constitutional crisis”, suggesting that some parties were using the row to “seek political advantage”.
Only minutes were available for discussion of devolved powers during the final debate in the Commons last week, prompting SNP MPs to walk out in protest during Prime Minister’s questions.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Sewel convention had been “ripped up”, saying the Scots had been “treated with utter contempt”.
The SNP leader said: “Our interests have been ignored, the voice and views of the Scottish parliament have been completely cast aside, and I don’t think it will be quickly or easily forgotten.”
Another pro-EU march is being planned in London on June 23. Picture credit: Eurasia Times