The Brexit Bill in the House of Lords
On Monday, the Brexit Bill (formally, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill will be debated over two days in the House of Lords. A list of the Amendments thus far tabled is to be found here: Running List of Amendments in Committee of the Whole House. It is to be remembered that the May Government does not have a majority in the House of Lords. Therefore it is to be hoped that the peers on all sides who oppose the bill (and the concept behind it) will do their utmost to improve it – something which did not happen in the House of Commons (not least because the Leader of the Labour Opposition in the Commons was not up to the job – of which more later).
One of the most important matters the Lords need to resolve is that of guaranteeing the right of EU nationals now in the UK to remain post Brexit. See this in Saturday’s Guardian: “EU citizens living in the UK could face legal limbo after Brexit – Leaked document reveals fears in Brussels that Home Office does not have systems in place to select who has right to stay“. It is to be noted that part of the problem is that the UK does not have a population register and that plans to introduce one under the Blair government were dropped, party because of opposition from David Davis MP – now the Brexit Secretary. See also the wholly unacceptable process the Home Office is presently using to oppress EU citizens discussed here: Freedom of Movement Post Brexit.
This article in the Independent is of interest: “Theresa May must get second Brexit Act through Parliament after EU negotiations, lawyers conclude – Legal opinion submitted to House of Lords opens possibility Article 50 could be revocable once triggered“. The full text of the Opinion is to be found here on the website of Bindmans: Final Article 50 Opinion signed by (i) Sir David Edward KCMG PC QC (a former UK Judge of the European Court of Justice), (ii) Sir Francis Jacobs KCMG PC QC (a former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice), as well as by (iii) Sir Jeremy Lever KCMG QC (Retired), (iv) Helen Mountfield QC and (v) Gerry Facenna QC. See also this release from Bindmans: Leading EU experts advise that EU Notification of Withdrawal Bill does not disable Parliament’s ‘constitutional handbrake’ on Brexit.
Hopefully, the opinion will give the Wicked Witch of Westminster and the sad little Attorney General she inherited from David Cameron something to worry about during the next few weeks.
The Telegraph had this: “Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson among pro-EU peers looking to force changes to Brexit deal in House of Lords – but they are still earning tens of thousands from Brussels” The article carries the by-line of the paper’s Assistant Political Editor, Ben Riley-Smith and it features Mr Rent A Quote (aka Dominic Raab MP) who was also featured criticising the Divisional Court Judges in this Telegraph article: “Judges vs the people“.
The Sunday Times had this rather strange story: “Ministers fight for foreign aid to ease Brexit” in which it is said that Brexit ministers are trying to divert foreign aid monies to Eastern Europe to soften the cost of Brexit, but, of course, the principal events on Sunday were the Andrew Marr Show which featured Liz Truss and Lord Mandelson and the Sunday Politics Show which had Baroness Smith and Oliver Letwin. (both programs are available on BBC I-Player – but only for people who have a UK TV Licence).
The Guardian has this: “Lords’ opposition leader says peers will not seek to delay article 50 – Lady Smith says Labour will table amendments to Brexit bill, including on status of EU nationals, but will not attempt to wreck March timetable”
Needless to say, Mr Rent A Quote is also featured in this article:-
“Raab said: “Voters will not look kindly on unelected politicians seeking to obstruct both the result of the referendum and the vote of their elected representatives in the House of Commons earlier this month. Peers would be wise to consider this clear democratic mandate, and their own futures, when debating the article 50 bill this week”.
It is so sad to see Mr Raab acting this way. After all, he was once a solicitor in a quite respectable City of London firm and was also (albeit briefly) a junior minister in the Ministry of Justice. Therefore he ought to be aware of the proper roles of the House of Lords and the Judiciary in our constitutional settlement.
Perhaps he is upset because his constituents voted Remain in the Referendum by 59.5% while he was a member of the Vote Leave Campaign Committee.