Good afternoon. Parliament is in recess, having exhausted itself in the largely uneventful battle to amend the Article 50 bill. In ten days’ time, that bill will pass to the House of Lords. So what might they do?
There are 252 Conservative peers, 203 Labour peers, 178 crossbenchers, and 102 (!) Liberal Democrats. In other words, the Conservatives can be outvoted. Yet it’s extremely unlikely that there will be a serious attempt to block the bill completely. The Lords tend to take their cue from the other house and from the people, both of whom have sent the clearest signal possible that this bill must pass. That is to say nothing of anonymous, presumably sanctioned chuntering from the Government about not going against the will of the people – though dark words about abolishment were walked back by No 10 over the course of last night.
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to continue their quixotic quest for a second referendum to ratify Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Their position may have some democratic logic given the enormous diversity of possible Brexits posited before last June. But I would assess as extremely low the appetite of a population which has just been through the most intense period of political bloodletting since Maastricht to do it all over again.
Labour, it seems, will be slyer. Its leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith of Basildon, says “the stakes are too high” for them not to “scrutinise” the bill. The party’s eight proposed amendments require the PM:
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