Unelected Peers Plot to Block No Deal Brexit

Peers take their seats in the House of Lords ahead of the State Opening of Parliament in the Houses of Parliament in London on June 21, 2017. Queen Elizabeth II will formally open parliament and announce the British government's legislative programme on Wednesday, two days later than planned. The state …
CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images

Unelected peers in the House of Lords are plotting to prevent the next prime minister from suspending parliament and facilitating a no-deal Brexit.

Conservative Party leadership hopeful Boris Johnson has pledged to take the United Kingdom out of the EU on October 31st with or without a deal, but Remainers in the House of Commons are conspiring to find ways to stop the countrying leaving the bloc in a clean break.

To stop Remainers frustrat Brexit, the next prime minister could prorogue (temporarily suspend) the parliament in the autumn — an option which Mr Johnson has not ruled out.

Tory MP Dominic Grieve, who has been instrumental in backing measures that seek to stop a no-deal Brexit, put forward an amendment to a bill this week that attempts to stop the next prime minister suspending the House. The amendment would force MPs to produce a report on the progress of restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland every two weeks. The Grieve amendment passed on Wednesday by one vote.

Now, the Labour frontbench has partnered with a group of cross-party pro-EU peers in the House of Lords to strengthen that amendment. The proposal would force these reports to be presented and debated in the Commons and Lords, rather than just published, preventing the suspension of Parliament.

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill is set to be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday before returning to the House of Commons.

Conservative peer Baroness Altmann told The Times:  “We hope that Parliament can assert its authority, to protect the national interest, rather than be overridden by a group determined to impose its own harmful agenda on the country, without any democratic mandate for such action.”

Labour peer Dianne Hayter told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she was “confident” the Lords motion will pass.

The plans come as former Tory prime minister and Remainer Sir John Major said that he would take legal action against Mr Johnson if he tried to prorogue parliament.

Sir John was subsequently called out for hypocrisy by people recalling that he prorogued Parliament in 1997 to delay the publication of the “cash for questions” report himself, the scandal having involved his own government.

Sources close to Boris Johnson are reported to have said that Sir John has “gone completely bonkers”.

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