House of Lords Blocks Boris Johnson’s ‘Donald Trump-Like’ Brexit Bill

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 12: Anti-Brexit demonstrators gather outside the Houses of Parliament on June 12, 2018 in London, England. The EU withdrawal bill returns to the House of Commons today for the first of two sessions in which MP's will consider amendments imposed by the Lords, and another set …
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The House of Lords overwhelmingly voted to remove key provisions in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill to amend the Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union.

On Monday night, peers voted by a margin of 433 to 165 to strip sections of the Internal Market Bill, that would have given the British government the power to remove sections of the initial Withdrawal Agreement, which the government claims would create artificial trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Conservative Party peer Lord Clarke described Boris Johnson’s bill as a “rather Donald Trump-like gesture,” adding: “I’ve never heard anybody describe any particular proposal that is being forced upon us in these negotiations by Brussels which should have such a ­horrendous and catastrophic consequence that we need to be allowed to behave like the government of a third-world dictatorship.”

Former Tory Party leader Lord Howard said the bill would set a “lamentable example” if the government were to “break its word, to break international law and to renege on a treaty”.

Former Brexit Party MEP, Baroness Claire Fox derided the move to shoot down the bill, however, claiming that the very point of Brexit was for the British people to not be bound by the dictates of the unelected, such as members of the House of Lords.

“I worry to the damage this House might inflict on the UK’s democratic reputation here at home if it insists on emasculating this Bill by amendments,” Fox said.

On Tuesday, UK left-wing newspaper The Guardian reported that PM Johnson was planning on pressing on with the bill irrespective of the Lords defeat, quoting a Downing Street spokesman who said: “Any Lords amendments will be considered when they return to the Commons but we do consider these clauses to be a vital safety net.”

The newspaper reported the government was putting itself on a “collision course with the Joe Biden administration” by pushing ahead with plans to leave the European Union fully.

The chairman of the Bow Group think tank, Ben Harris-Quinney told The Daily Express: “The House of Lords has long been unfit for purpose,” adding: “It’s no surprise that a body made of the last 20 years of the British establishment offers another example of establishment opposition to Brexit.”

“The vast majority of the Lords are pro EU. Many are financial beneficiaries of EU membership such as Lord Heseltine who has openly suggested ignoring the referendum result entirely,” Harris-Quinney said.

“These people are dangerously out of touch with the electorate and democracy. They are enemies of democracy and therefore the public, and the best adverts for their own abolition,” he declared.

In response to the vote, a Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the House of Lords has voted to remove clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill, which was backed in the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256 and delivers on a clear Conservative manifesto commitment. We will retable these clauses when the Bill returns to the Commons.”

“We expect the House of Lords to recognise that we have an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland to make sure they continue to have unfettered access to the UK under all circumstances,” the spokesman concluded.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued in September that the Withdrawal Agreement as it stands would empower the European Union with the ability to “carve up our country“. If legal barriers were to remain between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK after the Brexit transition period, the EU would retain power over some British laws and regulations, the Prime Minister argued.

There are also growing fears in the UK, that should former Vice President Joe Biden secure the presidency, the United States would punish the UK for supposedly breaching the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.

Mr Biden said during his campaign: “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.”

Biden has been a longstanding opponent to the pro-sovereignty Brexit movement and has often touted his Irish heritage.

Last month, one of Biden’s key foreign policy advisors, Anthony Gardner said that if elected the 77-year-old Democrat would announce a “declaration of support” for the European Union and would prioritise ties with the bloc over the United Kingdom.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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