Theresa May: Government will be ‘robust’ in trying to overturn Lords amendments to Brexit bill

Posted On: 
1st May 2018

Theresa May has said ministers will ramp up their efforts to reverse a series of Lords amendments to the flagship Brexit bill which she claims would “tie the Government’s hands”.

Theresa May said the Government would move to overturn peers' changes when the bill returned to the Commons
Credit: 
PA Images

The intervention comes after peers inflicted another humiliating defeat on ministers' plans last night, as the legislation continued its passage through the Lords.

The House voted by 335 to 244 for an amendment that would give MPs the power to decide what happens next if they reject the deal the Prime Minister strikes with the EU.

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Those behind the move hope that the 91-strong majority could sway enough pro-EU Conservatives into voting against the Government when the bill returns to the Commons.

But in a clear warning to Tory rebels planning to vote with Labour, Mrs May said ministers will be “robust” in their attempts to overturn it.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: “Cabinet expressed its strong disappointment at the defeats inflicted on the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords, saying they risked tying the Government's hands behind its back in negotiations with Brussels. 

“The Prime Minister said that when the bill returns to the House of Commons, the Government would be robust. She said it was vital to ensure the legislation is able to deliver the smooth Brexit which is in the interests of everybody in the United Kingdom.”

He added: “That bill left the House of Commons in a state which will deliver what the British public voted for. We wish for the bill to go through in the same form that it left in the House of Commons and a way that will deliver on that smooth Brexit.”

Tory peer Viscount Hailsham, one of those who put their name to the cross-party amendment, said during last night’s debate that “this country's future should be determined by parliament and ultimately by the House of Commons, and not by ministers”.

He added: “In a parliamentary democracy, this is what ought to be meant by a meaningful vote."

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said last night’s vote was “hugely significant” and would “ensure Parliament has a proper role in the Brexit negotiations” and avoid a no deal outcome.

“I would urge the Prime Minister to accept this cross-party amendment and recognise that there is no majority in Parliament or the country for a no deal Brexit,” he said.