Government braced for Brexit defeats in the Lords

Posted On: 
17th April 2018

Ministers are braced for a series of defeats as their flagship Brexit bill faces crunch votes in the House of Lords

The Government could face defeats on a handful of issues as Brexit legislation comes under scrutiny from peers
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Peers are set to inflict a series of humiliating blows on the Government as they line up to support a cross-party amendment demanding the UK remains within the customs union after Brexit, among others.

Leaving the customs union has been a major plank in the Prime Minister’s negotiating stance, and a Lords defeat would force the Government to defend the position in a fresh vote in the House of Commons.

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The amendment is one of a number which have a chance of passing in the Lords as six-days of voting on the Government’s flagship Brexit legislation begins tomorrow.

Peers are hopeful that new clauses demanding protection of workers and consumer rights, and changes around the so-called Henry VIII powers could also pass.

Labour’s shadow Brexit spokesperson in the Lords, Dianne Hayter, said she was “optimistic” about defeating the Government.

“All the serious amendments have got a Tory, a crossbencher, a Lib Dem and a Labour peer; the whole house has been covered.”

She added: “I’m pretty optimistic that unless the Government makes some meaningful concessions on some of them that we should get them through.”

A Government source told The Independent they were prepared for the clash.

“Are we expecting a defeat? Yes, that’s about where we are," the source said.

“The Government is listening on the important aspects of the bill and I think that’s what the overall tone of the debate from the crossbenchers will be – that, actually, the Government is listening and taking appropriate action.

“But there was always going to be a time when this type of amendment, the customs union amendment, was going to cause a bit of a clash”, they added.

“We’ll just have to see how the debate goes.”

A Brexit department spokesperson said: “The House of Lords plays an important role in scrutinising and revising legislation and we are grateful for the contributions made so far.

“Throughout the [bill’s] passage we have demonstrated that we are listening to constructive suggestions put forward.

“This bill is about providing certainty and continuity as we leave the EU. It is not a medium to overturn the referendum.”