Downing Street accuses House of Lords of trying to overturn Brexit ahead of crunch vote

Posted On: 
30th April 2018

Rebel Lords have been accused by Number 10 of trying to overturn the EU referendum result as the Government braces itself for yet another defeat on its flagship Brexit bill.

Ministers are braced for another defeat in the House of Lords.
Credit: 
PA Images

Peers will vote on an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would give MPs unprecedented powers to direct ministers if they reject Theresa May's withdrawal agreement with Brussels.

Lords - including many Conservatives - are expected to back the proposed changes, which would be the seventh time the Government has been defeated on the bill.

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Speaking ahead of the vote, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The Withdrawal Bill is about ensuring we leave the EU in a smooth and orderly manner. It's not a mechanism for overturning the referendum.

"What this amendment would do is weaken the UK's hand in the Brexit negotiations by giving Parliament unprecedented powers to instruct the Government to do anything with regard to the negotiations, including trying to keep the UK in the EU indefinitely.

"Fundamentally, the British people voted to leave the EU and the Government is delivering on that. It is simply not right that Parliament could overturn this.

"It is absolutely right that Parliament is able to scrutinise the final deal. That is why we've already committed to giving both houses a vote on the final deal."

The House of Lords has already defeated the Government on the bill on numerous occasions, including on calls to keep the UK in a customs union with the EU.

In an interview with The House magazine, Brexit minister Lord Callanan said his fellow peers were guilty of "a fairly transparent attempt to reverse the result of the Brexit vote".

He said: "Parliament has voted to leave the European Union. The Article 50 process was initiated through legislation. It was approved by both houses.

"That is the decision that was taken in respect of the result of the referendum to leave the European Union."

Conservative peer and former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine - who backed Remain in the referendum - said Brexit was "becoming less certain by the week".

He told the BBC's Daily Politics: "There is a constitutional crisis of a sorts, there’s no doubt about that.

"We are a divided nation, a divided party, a divided cabinet and every day the papers are full of nothing but this divisiveness.

"In the end what is one in politics for? One is there to do what you believe is best for the nation.

"My present position is that the chances are that Brexit will happen - but it is not a certainty and it is becoming less certain by the week."