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Analysis

Rebel peers are national heroes, not traitors

by Hugo Dixon | 01.05.2018

The House of Lords secured a fabulous victory for parliamentary democracy yesterday, calling by a thumping majority for Parliament to get a meaningful vote at the end of the Brexit talks. There were 19 Tory peers who helped inflict this defeat on Theresa May’s attempt to dictate the Brexit process.

The prime minister’s line is that Parliament will get a “take-it-or-leave-it” vote at the end of the talks. If MPs don’t like her deal – which is likely to be a miserable one – the country will charge out of the EU next March into an abyss. This is an unacceptable gun to the head of our democracy – and peers rightly rejected it.

Amendment 49 to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which strengthens an earlier amendment that MPs passed before Christmas, will give Parliament alternatives if the deal the government negotiates is not up to snuff. For example, it could force the prime minister to ask the people whether they still want Brexit at all once we know what the deal is.

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

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Parliament could also tell May to go back and change the deal. For example, if it was worried that the 21-month transition she has agreed isn’t long enough, meaning we’ll face another cliff edge at the end of 2020, it could tell her to negotiate a longer stopgap. Or it could instruct her to stay in a customs union or avoid border controls in Ireland, if MPs haven’t already forced her to do these things.

The Brexiters are hopping mad. The Daily Mail has called peers “The House of Unelected Wreckers” on its front page –  and, in an editorial, described them as “preposterous and treacherous”. The tabloid is continuing a theme which began with its “enemies of the people” attack on our Supreme Court two years for upholding the primacy of Parliament. This intimidation shows the Brexiters are losing the argument.

The Mail says peers are undermining the government’s negotiating position by robbing it of the option of “walking away rather than signing up to a bad deal”. This is 100% wrong. The amendment rather ensures that May only negotiates a deal that Parliament can buy into. If she listens to the legitimate concerns MPs have about the Brexit she wants, she will go into the last phase of the talks with Parliament behind her. That will make her stronger, not weaker.

The amendment also ensures that, if the best the government can negotiate is a miserable deal, Parliament will have time to ask the people whether they want Brexit at all. Finally, it provides an emergency parachute to stop us crashing out with no deal at all. If the prime minister hasn’t clinched an agreement by the end of February, one month before Brexit day. MPs will be able to take control of the process. This article sets out in detail how the amendment, including its deadlines, works.

How is this against the national interest? The peers who backed this amendment are not traitors. They are national heroes.

6 Responses to “Rebel peers are national heroes, not traitors”

  • It is quite possible many have broken the law by not declaring they are in receipt of eu funds. The will get their rewards in prison.
    Surprising how much damage this is doing to remain. A number of friends who voted remain now want the peoples referendum to vote against the eu. Remain thought they had it in the bag in Ref 1 in the event of ref2 they may get a bigger shock unless remoaners are planning voter fraud to win!

  • That’s a good article Hugo.

    I noticed this morning an article in the Guardian, entitled “Your country needs you to fight fake news, UK journalists told”, from the Defence Secretary.

    I’m not sure that this sits very well with the Daily Mail, which to seems to excel in writing articles which are far removed from objective, accurate, informative journalism for the benefit of people to form their own opinions and judgements.

    Therefore isn’t it rather ironic for the Mail Editor to be receiving such messages from Gavin Williamson?

    Unfortunately, the mail Editor must kowtow to his right-wing Lords and Masters first – therefore entertaining anything fake or against their owners interests is unlikely to be reported and dissected in the interests of honesty, integrity or ethics.

  • Whilst I applaud the Lords’ approval of Amendment 49, which should put Parliament back in the driving seat rather than leaving all decisions in the hands of Messrs. Davis, Fox, Johnson and the PM, I was very dissapointed that 2 other Lords amendments were withdrawn. One was about our continued access to the Single Market and the other about giving certainty to EU expats status.
    Tarriff free und unbureaucratic access to the Single Market is more important to business, and therefore the economy, than the Customs Union. It would also solve many of the still outstanding problems for expats (UK and EU) at a stroke. On the issue of citizens’ rights, expats (both EU and UK) have been kept in limbo for nearly 2 years. The PM has said numerous times that they are a priority in the negotiations, but , very cunningly and cynically, submits that confirming their rights now would get in the way of the Withdrawal Agreement.

    The Lords had opportunities to put both of these crucial issues to the vote last night, but withdrew the motions at the last second, because it was “too late”. I find it bewildering that these crucial issues affecting thousands of businesses and millions of (innocent) citizens were put to one side, because it might interfere with peers’ sleeping routines.
    There may be opportunities to re-visit these issues, maybe with the help of the Amendment 49, but the Lords needed to send out strong messages in its own capacity, as a means of giving robust support to like-minded MPs.

  • Brexit is a fascist project. Be in no doubt that since June 2016 a hard right-wing coup is taking place in the UK. Far-fetched? Consider the evidence. Nothing, but nothing, can be allowed to stand in the way of brexit as defined by von Papen May and her cabal of proto-fascists, not elections, not the devolved administrations (the Sewel Convention will be overridden), not the possible break-up of the UK, not the Good Friday Agreement, not the courts, not the economy, not international law, not Parliamentary procedures, certainly not Lords or Commons. As many have pointed out, the EU Withdrawal Bill is little different to Hitler’s Enabling Act & any right-minded person, of whatever political persuasion, should be appalled at such an undemocratic power-grab that is a dictator’s dream. Any opposition to brexit in any shape or form attracts bullying, threats, inflammatory language, and that such comes from Govt Ministers, with the example set by the feckless PM, is simply deplorable. We’re now being told that Parliament is obstructing the ‘will of the people’, a fascist mantra per excellence; will Parliament be bypassed to deliver the ‘will of the people’?

  • Seems a bit rich the BREXITEERS complaining about fraud and threatening imprisonment. If there was fraud it was by the government deliberately excluding UK citizens who live in other parts of the EU-not to mention the likely involvement of outside interests, plus of course the biased media. All the Daily Mail can do is defame people doing their job, expressing an opinion in the public interest. Pathetic. I just hope the BREXITEERS are the ones who will suffer through the inevitable decline of our economy and global irrelevance.

  • House of unelected wreckers? Apart from the utter childlessness of such a headline, the Daily Mail clearly takes it readers for mugs. For is not the owner of the said rag a VISCOUNT??? Clearly unelected. And clearly, a wrecker looking at the harm the Daily mail has caused and continues to do to this country.