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We will support the peers’ vote, vow Tory rebels: Remain MPs insist they will try to derail Brexit in the Commons by backing House of Lords amendment
- Heidi Allen MP warned the House of Commons would reject a ‘no deal’ scenario
- Fellow Tory Sarah Wollaston said that Parliament would not support a hard Brexit
- Jeremy Corbyn suggested MPs would try to retain extra powers for Parliament
Remain-backing Tory rebels signalled their support for the Lords vote, with Heidi Allen (pictured) warning that the Commons would reject any ‘no deal’ scenario
Rebel Tories last night suggested they would support a Lords amendment that could derail Brexit.
The Remain-backing MPs signalled they would refuse to overturn the amendment when it returns to the Commons. That could force Theresa May to reopen talks with Brussels if MPs reject her Brexit deal.
The controversial amendment – proposed by ex-Tory minister Viscount Hailsham and voted through on Monday night – sparked a furious row yesterday, with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox accusing peers of wanting to delay Britain’s exit from the EU indefinitely. Other Brexiteers warned the move strengthened the case for reforming the House of Lords.
Mrs May said measures to remove the option of walking away from Brexit talks with no deal ‘risked tying the Government’s hands behind its back in negotiations with Brussels’.
The Prime Minister told her Cabinet ‘the Government would be robust’, and it was ‘vital to ensure that the legislation is able to deliver the smooth Brexit which is in the interests of everybody in the UK’.
But the Remain-backing Tory rebels signalled their support for the Lords vote, with Heidi Allen warning that the Commons would reject any ‘no deal’ scenario.
‘The passage of the Great Repeal Bill was always going to be turbulent, but the Lords are merely reflecting what the majority of MPs believe – that Parliament must have a say in whether the deal is good enough, and no deal never will be,’ she said.
In a further sign of the potential difficulties facing the Prime Minister in the Commons, senior Tory backbencher Sarah Wollaston said: ‘Parliament won’t support hard Brexit. Neither the elected Commons nor the Lords are prepared to endorse economic ruin.’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, suggested his MPs would seek to retain the extra powers for Parliament sought by the Lords, telling the BBC: ‘Parliament should have the final say on the terms of leaving the European Union, and if we don’t accept the decisions that the Government has made, then they should be sent back to negotiate again.’
But Dr Fox accused peers of using a ‘backdoor mechanism’ to delay exit from the EU ‘indefinitely’. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We can’t have a situation where the clearly expressed will of the people in a referendum is thwarted by effectively procedural devices that would keep us in the EU indefinitely.
ory backbencher Sarah Wollaston said: ‘Parliament won’t support hard Brexit. Neither the elected Commons nor the Lords are prepared to endorse economic ruin’
‘I think there is quite a big debate now about whether the unelected House can actually thwart the view of the British electorate in a referendum and what’s been happening in terms of the legislation coming from the House of Commons.’
Tory MPs warned peers they would force the issue of Lords reform back on to the agenda if they continued to seek to derail Brexit. Daniel Kawczynski said the party should consider including a pledge to abolish the Lords and replace it with an elected senate in its next manifesto. He added: ‘The House of Lords is an elitist chamber that is trying to block the will of the people. The time has come for us to start talking about the abolition of the House of Lords.’
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said he was ‘absolutely in favour’ of reforming the Lords. He told BBC News: ‘Many peers are using this to re-fight the whole Brexit referendum issue and many of them have said some quite arrogant things about the British public. They have a disregard for the nature and the views of people of Britain and I think that is key for the elected chamber the House of Commons to say we are going to vote this down.’
A peer who likened Mrs May’s approach to Brexit to that of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany in Monday’s debate yesterday faced calls to withdraw his ‘disgusting’ remarks. Tory former minister Robert Halfon said the comments by Liberal Democrat Lord Roberts of Llandudno were ‘shameful for our Parliament’.
Raising a point of order in the Commons, he said: ‘As someone who is Jewish, and someone who is very proud of our Parliament, I find these remarks absolutely disgusting and shameful.’
Meanwhile, Labour refused to sack a frontbench peer, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, who defied the whip on Monday and voted for a Lib Dem amendment that would open the door to a second referendum. The amendment was defeated.
Brexit minister Steve Baker said: ‘Labour are allowing their frontbench to face in multiple directions on Brexit. Their incoherence is an insult to voters, whether they voted Leave or Remain.’
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