The Government is braced for a series of defeats in the House of Lords, as peers try to hinder Britain’s exit from the bloc.
Peers are expected to vote this Wednesday for a number of amendments to the European Union (EU) Withdrawal Bill, forcing ministers to explain how to keep the United Kingdom tied to a customs union and the EU’s worker and consumer rules.
The expected series of defeats come as research by the group Change Britain claims to have “revealed the top 10 Brexit-blocking peers”, who have proposed a massive 388 amendments that could frustrate or reverse Brexit.
“Whilst 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU, a handful of unelected Lords are trying to amend key Brexit legislation to force a second referendum or keep the UK in the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union,” the group wrote on social media.
“Rather than refusing to respect the referendum result and trying every trick in the book to reverse it, peers should accept the democratic decision of voters and work to get the best Brexit deal.”
BREXIT & LORDS THIS WEEK: Customs Union vote on Weds. Lost count of how many Tory peers say they are voting against Govt or abstaining so that this goes through with big majority. Although Brexit with Customs Union still massively inferior to staying in EU
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) April 16, 2018
On Twitter, UKIP Leader Gerard Batten blasted: “The House of Lords are signing their own death warrant. They represent no one but themselves. The Lords should now be abolished in its current form and replaced with a second, amending chamber that represents the people.”
According to The Telegraph, the customs union amendment will force the Government to set out in the Lords and Commons, by the end of October, “a statement outlining the steps” in the divorce talks to enable the UK “to continue participating in a customs union” with the bloc.
There are further Brexit votes in the Lords planned for the coming days, including one at the end of this month on an amendment to give Parliament the chance to block the Government walking away with a ‘No Deal’ Brexit if MPs reject the negotiated settlement in the promised “meaningful vote” in the Commons.
Barnier: EU Would Welcome UK Back into Single Market for Years After Brexit https://t.co/BCF9B3YlXV
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 12, 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has been very clear that the British people voted to leave and the EU and want us to be free to sign our own trade deals. As the Prime Minister has set out, that means leaving the Customs Union.”
A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the EU added: “The House of Lords plays an important role in scrutinising and revising legislation and we are grateful for the contributions made so far.
“Throughout the [bill’s] passage we have demonstrated that we are listening to constructive suggestions put forward.
“This bill is about providing certainty and continuity as we leave the EU. It is not a medium to overturn the referendum.”