Theresa May set to appoint new peers in bid to avoid further Brexit defeats
Theresa May is set to appoint a raft of new peers in an attempt to stave off further Brexit defeats in the House of Lords.
It comes after peers inflicted 15 bruising defeats on the EU Withdrawal Bill as it passed through the Lords.
Although there are more Conservative peers than Labour ones, the Government is well short of having a majority in the Upper House, leaving it vulnerable to defeat when more Brexit legislation comes before parliament.
Labour peer and arch-Remainer Lord Adonis accused the Prime Minister of stuffing the Lords with loyal peers in an attempt to ram through her Brexit agenda.
He told The Guardian: "This is a classic example of packing the Lords to try and make Brexit easier to endorse."
Alexandra Runswick, director of campaign group Unlock Democracy, told the Daily Mirror that the Government, was "cowering in the shade" of the publicity surrounding Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
She said: “This move is hypocritical, opportunistic, and weak. The Government is treating the public like idiots.
“Fresh from a defeat in the House of Lords on their flagship [Brexit] legislation, Theresa May is cowering in the shade of the Royal Wedding as she packs the House of Lords with cronies and failed MPs.
“It was barely a fortnight ago that Conservative MPs were calling for the upper chamber to be abolished altogether. Well, they’ve certainly changed their tune.”
Former Tory ministers Sir Eric Pickles and Peter Lilley are among those tipped to be given peerages, alongwith former MPs Sir Edward Garnier, Andrew Tyrie and Julian Brazier.
A source close to the Cabinet Office’s Honour Committee told The Mirror: "This has been on and off, on and off for months, but they’re likely to do it this weekend. They believe the Royal Wedding will be a good time to bury bad news."
Jeremy Corbyn is also expected to nominat three new Labour peers, with former party general secretary Ian McNicol tipped to take one of the new seats.
But Lord Adonis has hit out at his party for “legitimising” the Conservatives move. He said: “I’m very surprised that the Labour party is playing this game by agreeing to make a small number of peers because it legitimises the actions of the Tories.”
This round of party political appointments had been delayed for months after Mrs May urged peers to “embrace retirement”.
Responding to the Burns Report in February, which recommended cutting the membership of the House of Lords from 800 to 600 peers, Mrs May said: “Peers on the Conservative benches have a strong record in embracing retirement at the appropriate time, but achieving the sort of change outlined by Lord Burns and the committee will require that peers from all sides of the House to do the same.”
The Prime Minister highlighted at the time how she had attained a net reduction of 20 peers since she took office.
“I am keen to maintain that trajectory”, she said.