The plan to get us out of the European Union has suffered a major setback due to votes last night in the House of Lords. Theresa May is now under significant pressure to reopen the issue of Britain’s membership of a customs union after suffering two big defeats in the House of Lords on the government’s key Brexit bill.
The unelected Peers backed an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill that forces the government to explain what it has done to pursue remaining in a customs union, by 348 votes to 225 – a stunning majority of 123.
The government suffered a significant rebellion on the amendment tabled by crossbench peer Lord Kerr, which received the backing of 24 Conservatives, including former ministers Lord Patten, Lord Heseltine and Lord Willetts. A separate amendment that would limit the power of ministers to slash red tape without the approval of parliament was also passed, by 314 votes to 217.
The debate on the government’s key piece of Brexit legislation, in a packed chamber, was watched by the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer. After the customs union vote, he said: “The passing of this cross-party amendment is an important step forward. Theresa May must now listen to the growing chorus of voices who are urging her to drop her red line on a customs union and rethink her approach.”