Peers 'trying to stop Brexit' with fresh Govt defeat

By Greg Heffer, Political Reporter
The Government has accused the House of Lords of seeking to give Parliament the chance to stop the UK leaving the EU altogether after peers inflicted yet another defeat on key Brexit legislation.
In the latest of a series of amendments peers have made to the EU Withdrawal Bill, the House of Lords supported giving Parliament the power to shape the Brexit process, including if MPs reject the outcome of the Government's negotiations with Brussels.With the support of 19 Conservative rebels, peers backed the amendment by 335 to 244, a majority of 91, to deliver the seventh defeat for the Government on the bill in the House of Lords.The Tory peers to back the amendment included ex-deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine and former ministers Lord Patten of Barnes and Lord Willetts.However, Brexit minister Steve Baker signalled the Government will attempt to overturn the amendment when the EU Withdrawal Bill returns to the House of Commons.He said: "I am clear that what this amendment is seeking to do is to give Parliament the opportunity to stop Brexit altogether by giving the Commons the opportunity to direct the Government to do anything towards the end of the process."This is unprecedented power, it is a constitutional innovation and I think it is the wrong thing to vote for."Mr Baker said he and his fellow ministers were "disappointed" with the House of Lords vote claiming, if the amendment is accepted by the House of Commons, it would "hand unprecedented constitutional powers to Parliament to direct the Government in these negotiations and to direct the Government to do anything, even keeping the UK in the EU indefinitely".
Peers 'trying to stop Brexit' with fresh Govt defeat

The result was hailed by those seeking a second EU referendum
Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer hailed the House of Lords amendment as a "hugely significant moment in the fight to ensure Parliament has a proper role in the Brexit negotiations" and in avoiding Britain leaving the EU without an exit deal.He added: "If Parliament votes down the Article 50 deal, then Parliament must decide what happens next. Under no circumstances can the Prime Minister be given a blank cheque to crash the UK out of the EU without a deal."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."The vote was also praised by those seeking a second EU referendum and for a national vote on the final Brexit deal.Lord Newby, Liberal Democrat leader in the House of Lords, said: "Brexit is the most important decision facing the country for a generation and it is vital that Parliament - not the Government - decides whether or not any Brexit deal is acceptable."
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas MP, a supporter of the People's Vote campaign, said: "MPs should respond by ensuring the public are also able to express their view on the final Brexit deal, which will affect generations for generations to come."
Peers 'trying to stop Brexit' with fresh Govt defeat

Barnier warns of 'risk' that Brexit talks could fail
During the House of Lords debate prior to the vote, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Roberts likened the Prime Minister's approach to Brexit to that of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.He said: "We remember the reluctance of Mrs May to allow Parliament to be involved. She wanted the Government to be in charge."My mind went back to Berlin in March 1933 when the enabling bill was passed in the Reichstag, which transferred the democratic right from the parliament into the hands of one man - that was the Chancellor, and his name was Adolf Hitler."Mr Baker branded Lord Roberts' remarks "disgraceful" and "irresponsible".Later, peers inflicted an eighth defeat for the Government by adding another amendment backing plans to allow Parliament to approve a mandate for negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship.They supported the move by 271 votes to 233, majority 38.A ninth Government defeat saw peers support - by 205 votes to 181, majority 24 - an amendment championed by Labour's Lord Dubs, on allowing unaccompanied children seeking asylum to join family members in the UK.However, peers also voted on Monday against a Liberal Democrat amendment providing for a referendum on the Brexit deal by 260 votes to 202, majority 58.Labour's shadow health minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath voted in favour of the amendment, despite support for a referendum not being his party's policy.
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Mr Baker said: "If Labour want to be taken seriously as a party which respects the decision the people took in the referendum, they must remove Lord Hunt from their front bench."All their behaviour to this date has shown a determination to disrupt a successful Brexit, but failure to act now would demonstrate a contempt for those who voted for it."
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