Fresh blow for Theresa May as EU Withdrawal Bill suffers its fifteenth defeat in the Lords
The Lords have inflicted yet another humiliating defeat on the Government today – this time on post-Brexit environmental protections.
Peers voted 294-244 in favour of an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill designed to enshrine European environmental protections in UK law.
The proposals – tabled by crossbencher Lord Krebs with cross-party support – would see the creation of new body with tough powers to enforce EU environmental standards in Britain.
The latest defeat, taking the total on the Bill to fifteen, comes amid a backlash over the Government’s plans for a new green watchdog, dubbed “toothless” by Labour’s shadow environment minister, Baroness Jones, when they were released earlier this month.
Speaking today, Lord Krebs said: “We were promised a world class watchdog, and not just to protect but to enhance standards. In proposing a bill that clearly weakens protections it has fallen very short of expectations…
“The Government’s proposals open the door to weaker environment protection after Brexit day.”
The Green party’s Baroness Jones, who backed Brexit, said that without the protections it would be “a disaster from an environmental point of view”.
However, Tory peer Lord Framlingham, lashed out at his Upper Chamber colleagues, saying many of the amendments to the EU Withdrawal that had been passed had “simply been an attempt to wreck the Bill and thwart the will of the people”.
Former Tory environment secretary, Lord Deben – who also backed the amendment - hit back, saying: “We are running entirely with public opinion on this, the public wants proper protection.”
The landmark Brexit legislation will now return to the Commons, where the Prime Minister is expected to face tough battles against her own backbenchers on customs arrangements, the Northern Irish border and parliamentary scrutiny, among other issues.
Government whips are expecting the amendments to endure two rounds of so-called 'Ping Pong' before the Bill is finally passed, with the process possibly even stretching beyond the Whitsun recess.