Lord Adonis urges peers to back a second EU referendum as crucial Brexit bill hits House of Lords

Posted On: 
30th January 2018

Anti-Brexit campaigner Lord Adonis today made an impassioned plea for peers to back a second EU referendum as the flagship Brexit bill hit the House of Lords.

Lord Adonis quit as a Government adviser last year with a blast against Brexit
PA Images

The former minister has tabled an amendment to the landmark European Union (Withdrawal) Bill which would enshrine a vote on the final Brexit deal in law.

Speaking as the second reading debate got underway in the Upper Chamber, the Labour peer said: “We owe our fellow citizens the right to decide the terms on which Brexit should proceed.”

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He added: “As the first say on Brexit was given to the people. So, the final say on Brexit should rest with the people once they see the terms proposed by the Government."

Lord Newby, the Liberal Democrat leader in the Lords, reiterated his party’s backing for a second referendum and argued the public was also in favour.

He said: “The Bill and the Government still also refuses to countenance the idea that, having fired the starting gun for the Brexit process, the people as a whole should decide whether the Government has produced a deal which they find acceptable.

“My Lords, opponents of a referendum on any Brexit deal have argued that such a vote would frustrate the will of the people.”

“Yet, as of today, polls show that the people wish to have such a referendum, and that they are likely to vote to remain in the EU. 

Lord Newby was referring to a poll in the Guardian this week which suggested support for a second referendum had a 16-point lead, when 'Don't Knows' were excluded. 


However, the Leader of the Lord, Baroness Evans, set out her opposition to the move, saying the EU Withdrawal Bill was “not about revisiting the arguments of the referendum”.

“This Bill ensures we have a functioning statute book on the day we leave," the Tory peer said.

“It is about providing certainty and continuity for people and businesses. It is about ensuring people's rights are upheld, and legal protections are maintained.

“It is vital to a smooth and orderly exit from the EU.”


Labour's leader in the Lords, Angela Smith, criticised the legislation and called for a rethink on so called Henry VIII powers, which will hand significant control to ministers over a swathe of Brexit-related issues.

She said: “I hope Government recognises that it must scale back on the scope of such unprecedented and sweeping delegated powers granted to Ministers, and safeguard Parliamentary Sovereignty.”

But Labour does not support the amendment by Lord Adonis and it is expected to be defeated if it comes to a vote.

The former minister dramatically quit as the Government’s infrastructure advisor last year, warning of the dangers of Brexit which he described as a “populist and nationalist spasm".