Pro-Brexit Tory peer warns of 'insurrectionary forces' if Leave vote not respected
A pro-Brexit Tory peer has warned that "insurrectionary forces" could be let loose if Parliament fails to honour the outcome of the EU referendum.
Lord Lawson, who served as Chancellor for six years under Margaret Thatcher, said there was a growing "rift" between Parliament and the people as peers voted on a bill aimed at avoiding a no-deal Brexit next week.
The Tory Brexiteer, who lives in France, made the comments during a debate in the House of Lords on controversial legislation, passed in the Commons by a single vote, to rule out the possiblity of the UK exiting the EU without a deal.
MPs debated the bill, which is masterminded by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, before rushing it through all stages of the Commons in a single day.
But Lord Lawson accused MPs of attempting to breach the UK's unwritten constitution by hurrying through the bill, as he urged peers to act as a "brake" on the process.
He said: "I have served in Parliament for 45 years and there has never been an instance of constitutional vandalism of a scale that we are witnessing at the present time."
The veteran peer criticised pro-Remain MPs who he said felt the issue was so important that it was "necessary and right to tear up the constitution".
"The reverse is the case," he said. "The more important the issue, the more important it is that the constitution and the conventions it consists of are respected."
He added: "I am deeply concerned at the rift between Parliament and the people. It's refusal to accept the people's judgement on the referendum.
"I think that there is a real danger that undesirable, but very often understandable, insurrectionary forces will feel they cannot trust the British parliament, they cannot trust the British constitution and a very ugly situation could well arise."
Meanwhile, former Conservative leader Lord Howard warned that those making the case for the rushing through of the legislation were relying on the "pretence of tyrants".
"An unwritten constitution only works of the institutions of government respect those conventions, those procedures and those precedents", he said.
"Under an unwritten constitution the House of Commons has very great power, but the House of Commons should exercise that power with constraint, with circumspection, with respect for those conventions, those procedures and those precedents."
The veteran Tory took aim at Remain-backing MPs who claimed the move was necessary because the UK was "in a state of national crisis".
He warned: "That is the pretence which tyrants have used down the ages for abrogating the safeguards which have existed in those countries to safeguard the liberties of citizens."
Brexiteer peers in the upper chamber had attempted to filibuster the bill, laying a series of amendments which they dicussed at length, delaying the debate on the motion for over seven hours.
Eventually, a deal between government and opposition whips allowed the debate to end after peers voted it through at second reading with the remaining stages to be concluded on Monday.