A parliamentary bill aimed at blocking a No Deal Brexit rammed through the House of Commons in just four hours is now in the House of Lords, where it was expected to be rubber-stamped in an equally truncated debate.
The Upper House was voting on the anti-No Deal bill, put together by Labour’s Yvette Cooper, who represents a constituency where almost 70 percent of voters backed leaving the European Union, and Sir Oliver ‘Leftwing’ Letwin, a leading Tory Remainer, which shot through the House of Commons in an accelerated process denounced as a “constitutional outrage” with a majority of just one.
Long speeches by Brexit-supporting peers, votes on closure motions, and other procedural tactics successfully prolonged the Lords debate for long enough that the same thing could not happen again today, although it has made its way through a first and second reading.
The remaining stages will be considered on Monday, April 8th, when the House of Lords resumes sitting.
Original article and background on the House of Lords continues below the following updates:
UPDATE, 11:00 pm. — The Cooper-Letwin bill has passed its second reading, with the remaining stages of its passage to take place on Monday. Should these succeed, it will be submitted to the Queen for the Royal Asssent and, if this is granted, it will become law.
It is possible that the Government could advise the monarch to decline to grant the Royal Assent, given the bill’s constitutional gravity and highly unorthodox passage — but this has not happened for hundreds of years.
UPDATE, 10:00 p.m. — Lord Adonis, a Tony Blair placeman who has become on of the key players in the campaign to overturn Brexit, used his speech in the Lords to debate to push for a second referendum, and brag that Britain’s exit from the European Union “will probably never happen”.
“My Lords, Brexit has not been got over the line; it will probably never happen,” he bragged.
“[T]he right thing for the nation, and maybe even for the Conservative Party, is for it to be buried, for the nightmare to end, and then for us to carry on our national life in a much better prospect.”
UPDATE, 08:30 p.m. — The House of Lords has moved on to the second reading of the Cooper-Letwin bill, after seven hours of debate — markedly heated, by the standards of the sedate and predominantly silver-haired chamber.
Lord Framlingham, a Tory Brexiteer, said the was the bill was being passed was an “abuse of the parliamentary system” and “all part of the plot to stop us leaving the EU” by establishment Remainers in both Houses of Parliament, who — unlike the public — are heavily europhile.
UPDATE, 06:15 p.m. — A readout of talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, which are being carried out to try and find a further watered-down “compromise” version of Brexit which the Prime Minister can pass with the aid of Labour MPs — even if few in her own party back it — gives little away.
“Today both sets of negotiating teams met for four-and-a-half hours of detailed and productive technical talks in the Cabinet Office, supported by the civil service,” a Downing Street spokesman stated, as the Cooper-Letwin bill was continuing to slog its way through the House of Lords.
“The Government and the Opposition hope to meet again tomorrow for further work to find a way forward to deliver on the referendum, mindful of the need to make progress ahead of the forthcoming European Council.”
Labour PM Ramsay MacDonald couldn't get his Great Depression budget through on Labour votes, so he turned to the Conservative Party for help and became PM of a national govt.
As a result the Labour Party lost 235 seats, falling back to just 52 compared to the Conservative's 470. pic.twitter.com/zil0YeyX7d
— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) April 2, 2019
UPDATE, 04:50 p.m. — The Government and the Opposition are engaged in “peace talks” over the Cooper-Letwin bill, according to Sky News political editor Faisal Islam, is it becomes apparent that the House may not be able to complete its passage until Monday, April 8th.
The journalist notes that it is still possible that it will be ready to receive the Royal Assent from Elizabeth II, acting in her constitutional capacity as Queen-in-Parliament, on that date, as planned — although the Government could deploy the nuclear option of advising her to reject it.
NEW: government and Opposition sources acknowledge “peace talks” over Cooper-Letwin passage in Lords which could kick later stages into Monday. Acknowledgement that procedural tactics may have worked in delaying consideration of actual Bill.
Royal Assent still poss Monday tho.
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) April 4, 2019
UPDATE, 02:50 p.m. — Nigel Lawson, the Baron Lawson of Blaby, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under the late Margaret Thatcher and was a leading figure in the Vote Leave campaign in 2016, as described the attempt to force through the Cooper-Letwin bill as “constitutional vandalism”.
“This is the most appalling day,” said the 87-year-old, in evident disgust.
“I have served in Parliament for 45 years and there has never been an instance of constitutional vandalism of the scale that we are witnessing today… [W]e pay a price for not having a written constitution. That price has become evident today and in recent days,” he observed.
‘A Tainted Result’ – Anger as Criminal MP ‘Wearing a Tag’ Helps Anti-Brexit Bill Pass by One Vote https://t.co/dhPvKqyo5y
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 4, 2019
Although technically the Upper House of Parliament, the House of Lords is for all practical purposes junior to the House of Commons, due to its unelected nature, and it cannot outright reject Commons bills — merely propose amendments and send them back for reconsiderations, a maximum of three times.
Originally, membership was limited to the Lords Spiritual — Church of England leaders — and members of the traditional aristocracy, who it was thought could temper the excesses of the elected House of Commons and provide the nation with an independent-minded revising chamber, free from pressure to appease sectional interests, party leaders, and so on.
Since the 1990s, however, the Lords Spiritual (clergymen) and hereditary peers comprise only a small minority of the House, which is made up largely of so-called “life peers” who do not pass their seats on to their children.
Originally, it was suggested that life peerages would be used to appoint veteran statesmen and retired senior officials, leading entrepreneurs and industrials, scientists, health professionals, and so on, so the Lords could become something of an assembly of experts.
In practice, however, it has become a bastion of the establishment in old age, dominated by EU loyalists who have been fighting a rearguard action against Brexit, and often comprised of friends and allies of prime ministers and major party donors rather than genuine pillars of the national community.