Unelected Peers have passed an amendment to the European Union (EU) withdrawal bill, which anti-Brexit politicians hope could keep the UK tied to the bloc’s Customs Union and failing trade policies.
The House of Lords voted on Wednesday evening by a majority of 123 for the UK to stay locked in the union, unable to form it’s own trade deals with Commonwealth nations and emerging markets.
Ministers will now be forced to report on what efforts they had made to secure a customs union by the end of October.
The government, however, has argued it is only symbolic and will not hinder the Prime Minister’s promise to take the UK out of the Customs Union.
The vote was tabled by crossbencher Lord Kerr and was backed by most Labour and the Liberal Democrat Peers, as well as 24 Tory rebels, including former ministers Lord Patten, Lord Heseltine and Lord Willetts.
Time to close the House of Lords down and kick Cameron and Blair's mates out. pic.twitter.com/scTXKDPu8R
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) April 18, 2018
Brexit leader Nigel Farage blasted the vote as a “disgrace,” argue that Peers were out of touch with the people, and called for the house to be abolished.
“All I can say is the House of Lords is stuffed full of former MPs, party donors, and former European Commissioners,” he said from Strasbourg on LBC radio.
“They are a London-based clique and most of them are mates of Blairs, and Camerons. The whole place is a complete and utter disgrace.”
Ahead of the vote, Conservative Lord Forsyth said the Lords were “playing with fire” and reminded his colleagues they were part of an “unelected house” and called the amendments “a campaign putting Peers against the people.”
Following the vote, Tory MP and Brexit-supporter Nadine Dorries said she would be working to reduce the power of the Lords. She wrote on Twitter:
“The Lords have just messed up once too often. I for one will be lobbying for a bill to massively reduce the Lords in size, for positions to be elected on fixed terms equal to Parliament and for powers to be reduced.”
Hard-hitting home truths from Lord Forsyth: These amendments are part of a campaign that is putting Peers against the people – it's an exercise by Remainers in this House who refuse to accept the verdict of the British people.
Predictably, the other Lords don't want to hear it. pic.twitter.com/eKnw0VgGpM
— Hugh Bennett (@HughRBennett) April 18, 2018
UKIP Leader Gerard Batten said the vote was a betrayal of the people and vowed his party would continue to fight it. He said in a statement:
“The vote by the House of Lords to remain in the Customs Union is a clear betrayal of the 17.4 million people who voted Leave. Those people did not vote to be half in, half out of the EU.
“The Commons must reject the Kerr Amendment or put itself in opposition to the people.
“Lord Kerr was the man who drafted Article 50 in such a way that EU exit can be delayed, impeded and overturned. Acting true to form he is now trying to carry it through to its purpose.
“UKIP will continue to fight for a complete and clean exit from the EU.”
The government is expected to lose a series of votes on the Brexit withdrawal bill in coming days after Peers proposed a massive 388 amendments that could frustrate or reverse Brexit.
EU’s Brexit Boss Demands Britain Stay in Customs Union or Face Consequences: ‘It Is Time to Make a Choice’ https://t.co/EJ8RIe1SeP
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 6, 2018