Lib Dem peers inflict defeats on government’s Brexit bill

House of Lords. Photo: Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentThe Guardian reports:

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has received a setback in the Lords after three amendments to the bill were passed.

In the government’s first parliamentary defeat since the general election, peers voted for EU citizens to have the right to be given official documentation if they lawfully reside in the UK after Brexit.

They backed a cross-party amendment to the withdrawal agreement bill allowing for physical proof of status.

The second defeat was over the power of British courts to depart from European court of justice judgments and the third swiftly followed when peers backed a move to allow cases to be referred to the supreme court to decide whether to depart from EU case law.

The first amendment regarding documentation for EU citizens residing in the UK was proposed by Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates. It was carried by 270 votes to 229.

Jonny said afterwards:

This amendment simply seeks to uphold the promise repeatedly made by Boris Johnson that the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK would be automatically guaranteed.

It would remove the risk that those who failed to meet the cut off deadline would be automatically criminalised and subject to deportation.

It was very disappointing to see the Conservatives vote against protecting the rights of millions of people who contribute so much to our society, our economy and our communities.

Liberal Democrats will always champion the rights of EU citizens in the UK and hold the Conservative Government to account for the promises they’ve made.

The second defeat for the government was on a vote to prevent Ministers from instructing lower courts to ignore legal precedent.

The House of Lords passed the amendment to the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, moved by Liberal Democrat peer Alan Beith, by 241 votes to 205. The Lib Dems also supported a third amendment by Lord Mackay (former Tory Lord Chancellor) linked to the same issue.

These amendments are likely to be overturned by the Conservative majority in the Commons, but they put down important scrutiny markers.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • And moving the House of Lords to York is a completely daft idea.

  • Andrew Tampion 21st Jan '20 - 7:42am

    This is all very well but if the House of Commons refuses to accept any of these amendments and there isn’t time for the bill to go through both Houses again to get an agreed wording then presumably we leave on the 31st of January with no deal?

  • John Peters 21st Jan '20 - 8:58am

    The default position is we leave without a deal unless the WAB is law in the UK (i.e. has Royal Assent) AND the EU parliament has ratified the deal by the 31st January 2020

  • John Marriott 21st Jan '20 - 9:56am

    Playing games in the so called ‘Upper’ House? As Paul said, it won’t make any difference. Let’s move on!

    As for moving the ‘Fast Show’ to York, that’s just the kind of window dressing we can expect from a government that has clearly forgotten, as Blair did in 1997, that what our country needs is root and branch reform. Anything to gain a majority, hey?

    Talking of 1997 and Blair’s victory, there’s an interesting comparison with Johnson’s ‘win’ in 2019. Just as, we are told, Johnson has been loaned the votes of the ‘workers’ in the North, so Blair back then was loaned the votes of the Middle Classes, particularly in the South East; but also in the Midlands.

    Blair largely stuck to his word, kept initially to Tory spending plans and ditched the reforms we really needed like PR, Regional Government, a Written Constitution, a Bill of Rights and, yes, House of Lords Reform. I wonder whether Johnson will similarly keep his word. If he does, we might all be in for a surprise. Personally I reckon that the jury is out on that, given his past record. As the late Lord Stockton, who represented a northern seat for most of his parliamentary career before enoblement was supposed to have said; “Events, dear boy, events”. You can easily get blown off course, can’t you. In any case, you can always blame the EU!

  • Innocent Bystander 21st Jan '20 - 10:39am

    The HoL needs to be replaced. If it has to move then York does not need the economic benefit. Move it to Workington or Middlesborough.
    Nick Tyrone’s blog started a debate about reforms and one idea was a chamber formed of secondees from professional bodies, learned societies etc. Another idea would be a regional senate and another might be same as now but not life appointees but for say ten years only.

  • John Marriott 21st Jan '20 - 11:00am

    @Ian Sanderson (RM3)
    No, mate, I give Blair no credit whatsoever.Why? Because, deep down, I’m a Liberal. And deep down, he was a Tory!

  • David Becket 21st Jan '20 - 5:09pm

    Now watch de Pfeffle stuff the Lords full of de Pfeffle clones

  • Charles Smith 21st Jan '20 - 9:22pm

    One of the five contenders to lead Britain’s main opposition Labour Party dropped out of the race on Tuesday after struggling to build momentum behind her campaign.

    Lawmaker Jess Phillips said in a video message that the party needed “a candidate that can unite all parts of our movement — the union movement, the members, the elected representatives.” Phillips, who has been a member of Parliament since 2010, added that “at this time, that person isn’t me.”

    Four contenders remain in the race to lead the left-of-centre party as as it tries to rebuild support and regain power after last month’s electoral drubbing.

    Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry are vying to replace Jeremy Corbyn, who is stepping down after Labour suffered its worst election result since 1935 in Britain’s Dec. 12 election.

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