MEMBERS of the House of Lords, including the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, inflicted a heavy defeat on the Government in a strategic Brexit vote on Monday.
Peers voted for an amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill which could allow Parliament to force ministers to reopen negotiations in a “no-deal” scenario. It was passed with a majority of 91, and is the ninth defeat the Government has suffered on the Bill in the Lords.
It was put forward by Viscount Hailsham, a former Conservative minister, and means that Parliament can alter the agreement and send ministers back to Brussels to reopen EU talks.
He said that the amendment was “designed to ensure that the future of our country is determined by parliament and not by ministers”.
Explaining his support for the amendment, Bishop Baines said: “I keep hearing in this debate the language of ‘telling the House of Commons what to do’.
“Call me ignorant, but I did not think that that was what we were doing. I thought the role of the House of Lords was to scrutinise, improve, and ask the Government to think again.”
Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, called the vote “a hugely significant moment in the fight to ensure parliament has a proper role in the Brexit negotiations and that we avoid a no-deal situation”.
The former Conservative leader Lord Howard of Lympne said, however, that the House of Commons had never had a negotiating function and to give it one would “immeasurably weaken the Government’s negotiating position with the EU and would, I believe, make our Government and our country a laughing stock”.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said that Theresa May had promised the Cabinet a “robust” response to the string of defeats the Government had suffered on the withdrawal Bill when it returned to the House of Commons, The Guardian reported
Bishop Baines has previously said that the Brexit debate has “unleashed the normalisation of lies” (News, 2 February).
The withdrawal Bill continues at report stage in the House of Lords.
Brexit in Lincolnshire The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams was the keynote speaker in March at a seminar on how Lincolnshire could adjust to a post-Brexit world, writes Tim Wyatt.
It was the latest in a series of meetings organised during the past six months by the Revd Jonathan Sibley, the Vicar of St Mary’s, Long Sutton (News, 20 October).
Lord Williams spoke on the creation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, 70 years ago, as a minimum benchmark for what was required to treat people with respect and dignity.
Mr Silbey said last month: “There’s a lack of trust in recognised government bodies and Parliament and local authorities, and a distrust generally of any kind of authority.
“The whole situation is exacerbated by the lack of labour in Lincolnshire. There’s no plan for how to deal with any of this. [Brexit] will make it harder to deal with this and it could even exacerbate it.”