Theresa May set to make rare personal appearance to keep pressure on over Article 50
Theresa May is set to lead a group of ministers and MPs in person to the House of Lords today to watch the opening of peers’ deliberations about starting Brexit by the end of next month.
Mrs May, the Prime Minister, and David Lidington, the Leader of the House of Commons, are pencilled in to listen in person to the start of the debate on the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.
One source said the fact that Mrs May is hoping to attend in person – subject to last minute diary changes - showed that ministers were “taking very seriously” the Lords’ deliberations.
Speaking this morning on a visit to Stoke ahead of the by-election there later this week, Mrs May said: "[The Bill] was not amended [in the House of Commons]. I hope that the House of Lords will pay attention to that.
"Properly there will be debate and scrutiny in the House of Lords, but I don’t want to see anybody holding up up what the British people want, what the people of Stoke-on-Trent voted for last year, which is for us to deliver Brexit, to leave the European Union."
Eurosceptic MPs accompanied the Bill after it cleared the House of Commons 10 days ago. However it is unusual for Cabinet ministers to go in person to listen to peers’ debates.
The MPs will be hoping that they can be a visible reminder to the unelected peers of the will of the people after the country voted to leave the EU.
Just over 190 peers are due to debate the Brexit Bill – 80 today and 110 tomorrow – in a sitting running late into the evening.
Peers are likely to vote on the contentious amendments such as giving EU nationals a legal right to remain in the UK after Brexit next week.
The Government is expecting to lose some votes in the Lords, which will force MPs to vote again to force them through Parliament in the middle of next month.
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, the Leader of the House of Lords, is expected today to tell peers to respect the “primacy” of the House of Commons.
Lady Evans will urge peers not “try and shape the terms of our exit, restrict the Government’s hand before it enters into complex negotiations or attempt to rerun the referendum”.
She will say: “In May 2015 a Conservative Government was elected with a clear manifesto commitment to 'negotiate a new settlement for Britain in the EU', to 'ask the British people whether they want to stay in on this basis, or leave' and, to 'honour the result of the referendum, whatever the outcome.'
“The Government has delivered on these commitments. This House passed a Bill to deliver a referendum – without placing conditions on the result. On 23rd June 2016, the British people delivered their verdict. This Bill is not about revisiting that debate."
“This Bill is not the place to try and shape the terms of our exit, restrict the Government’s hand before it enters into complex negotiations or attempt to rerun the referendum.
“This Bill is the beginning of a process and a discussion we will be having in this House and the other place for several years to come."
“Views have been expressed over what might be expected from this House as we scrutinise this Bill. Some have asserted that it will ignore the referendum result and seek to use this Bill to frustrate the process of leaving the EU.
“As someone who understands our collective sense of responsibility to our important constitutional role, I don’t share those concerns. I am confident that Noble Lords will take a constructive approach.”
“I also know that Noble Lords respect the primacy of the elected House and the decision of the British people on 23rd June last year.”
Lord Mandelson, a former Labour Cabinet minister, yesterday told the Andrew Marr Show peers to defy the Government and not “throw in the towel early”.
The peer was not scheduled to be speaking in the debate according to the list published by the House of Lords but heis understood to have replaced another speaker who withdrew this morning.