Brexit Bill defeated in Lords vote as angry peers voice concerns over ‘breaking international law’

The Government’s controversial Brexit Bill suffered in a humiliating vote in the House of Lords late on Monday (November 9) night.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit legislation was criticised by peers as they voted to strip out powers which would enable ministers to break international law.

Former Conservative Party leader Lord Howard of Lympne called for Mr Johnson to “think again” and remove the contentious parts of the UK Internal Market Bill.

Lord Howard warned that the Government is using the language of “law breakers” everywhere in the bill.

Of the votes which took place, cross-party amendments were tabled to strike out clauses linked to the most contentious part of the Bill, namely part five.

It gives ministers the power to breach the Brexit divorce deal – known as the Withdrawal Agreement – brokered with Brussels last year.

After an evening of debate, the House of Lords voted 433 to 165 – majority 268 – to remove section 42 – one of the disputed clauses – and section 43 was removed without a vote.

This was the first of two expected votes to remove the relevant sections that make up part five.

Powers to override the Withdrawal Agreement are needed to protect the relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland ministers have been insisting.

But critics argue the powers are not necessary.



Lord Michael Howard criticised the Brexit Bill in the House of Lords
Lord Michael Howard criticised the Brexit Bill in the House of Lords
(Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

Baroness Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the House of Lords, said in a statement: “I am sure some in Government will initially react with bravado and try to dismiss tonight’s historic votes in the Lords.

Also Check:  Man City starlet's cause of death to be confirmed at inquest

“To do so, however, would underestimate the genuine and serious concerns across the UK and beyond about ministers putting themselves above and beyond the rule of law.

“The Government should see sense, accept the removal of these offending clauses, and start to rebuild our international reputation.”

After the vote, the division list showed a total of 44 Conservative peers rebelled and decided themselves to vote to remove one of the disputed sections.

Rebels included former party leader Lord Howard, ex-Brexit minister Lord Bridges of Headley and former chief whip Lord Young of Cookham.

Those opposing clause 42 of the Bill also included nine bishops, 115 independent crossbenchers, 156 Labour peers and 81 Liberal Democrats.

Peers went on to inflict a further defeat on the Government by 407 votes to 148 – majority 259 – stripping out a further contentious clause relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

All the other controversial provisions were removed without votes.

Following the vote, a Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the House of Lords has voted to remove clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill, which was backed in the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256 and delivers on a clear Conservative manifesto commitment.

“We will retable these clauses when the Bill returns to the Commons.

“We’ve been consistently clear that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and the huge gains of the peace process.

“We expect the House of Lords to recognise that we have an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland to make sure they continue to have unfettered access to the UK under all circumstances.”

Also Check:  Second wave of coronavirus has not yet begun in UK, say experts