Yesterday’s EU Withdrawal Bill debate in the House of Lords saw Brexit-bashing peers at their ermine-clad, sneering worst. Lord Bilmoria said Brexit is “a train crash in slow motion” and compared leaving the EU to the outbreak of the First World War. The Dark Lord, Lord Mandleson, said it is not “axiomatic” that the result of the referendum should be upheld and suggested Brexit could be overturned. Lord Patten whacked the benches as he shouted “I hate referendums!” and denounced Brexit as an “sin against… democracy.” Baroness Wheatcroft used her speech to argue for a second referendum. Lord Adonis whimpered: “don’t let us throw it all away.” You pay each of them £300 a day to luxuriate in what Lord Ridley called “the gilded, crimson echo-chamber for Remain”…
Even most Remainers can surely see that the Lords voting down the government last night was about frustrating the process rather than helping either EU migrants or the Brexit deal. Goes without saying that tacking this amendment onto the Brexit bill oversteps the constitutional role of the second chamber. Below are the Lords that voted to delay the process. How many have you heard of?
Adams of Craigielea, B.
Allan of Hallam, L.
Allen of Kensington, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anderson of Swansea, L.
Armstrong of Hill Top, B.
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.
Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B.
Last night’s historic Commons vote drives Brexit forward and all eyes are on what happens next. Here’s Guido’s rundown of crucial events in the coming months.
20-21 Article 50 Bill Second Reading, House of Lords. The government doesn’t have a majority in the Lords. Labour peers promise not to derail the Bill, but rogue Lords could cause trouble. The majority of Lib Dem peers want a second referendum and single market access which the government has set its face against.
27-28 Article 50 Bill Committee Stage, House of Lords. If the Lords do make major amendments to the Bill they will be discussed in detail over two days.
7 – Article 50 Bill Third Reading, House of Lords. A Bill amended by pro-EU peers seeking to frustrate Brexit would be returned to the Commons for “ping-pong” – but government sources have threatened peers that the Lords could be abolished if they take this course. Otherwise, a non-amended Bill will become law.
8 Phillip Hammond delivers the Budget, a key opportunity to build on May’s 12 principles and present in more detail the economic vision for Brexit Britain.
9-10 European Council meeting in Brussels. An obvious opportunity for May to formally tell EU leaders that Britain is leaving.
13, 14, 15 Days on which the Commons will undo any Lords’ amendments.
25 – EU Summit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Treaty of Rome. Awkward.
31 – May’s deadline for enacting Article 50, triggering a two year negotiation window for a Brexit deal to be in place before the March 2019 European elections.
Then the real work begins…
Lords are en masse debating the Digital Economy Bill this week – its passage means the British Board of Film Classification will be the regulator of age verification for online porn. The government’s current position is that the policy would apply to commercial porn sites and payment services that generate revenue. Yet the BBFC are mounting a power grab – they want anything on the internet that can be connected to porn to come under their remit. Guess who hosted a glitzy dinner in parliament in January giving them ample opportunity to lobby MPs over bottles of wine? Yep, the BBFC. The government’s own regulator using parliament to lobby the government…