Johnson loses three votes in the House of Lords

Tuesday 21st January 2020

Historically the House of Lords ha ben seen as a bastion of Conservatism. Unsurprisingly, this is the case, given that the second chamber was peopled with members of the aristocracy from the outset. Lords, Earls, Dukes and Bishops countered the commoners of the Lower House.

However, as hereditary peers have been replaced by businessmen and women, chosen by different political sides, the Tories can no longer assume that the upper chamber will endorse their philosophies.

Consequently it was an interesting, and ironic twist, that although Boris Johnson  has an overwhelming majority of 80, giving him carte blanche over parliament, he was faced with three defeats yesterday when three pieces of  Brexit legislation passed to the Lords for ratification.

Firstly calls for EU nationals to be given physical documentation proving thy could live in the UK after Brexit was supported, as well as removing the power of government ministers to decide whether or not rulings from the European Court of Justice can be disregarded and maintaining the independent of UK courts regarding EU case law.

Each vote was lost by the government by over 20 votes, indicating the the Tories really are in the minority in the upper chamber.

It seems that in the same way that the House of Representatives and The Senate are controlled by different political sides in the US, here in the UK we now have the same phenomena.

The legislative proposals will now be handed back to the Commons to be amended, before going back to the Lords for a second reading.

Ironically, The Lords has also been trending in the headlines on two other counts. There have been calls, and support,  for the the whole establishment to be moved to the North of England,  a move to redistribute the centre of power (and thank northerners for supporting the Tories at the general election) and intrigue that it has been Jeremy Corbyn who has nominated John Bercow to sit in the House of Lords, when his own party has not.

It is almost inevitable that anyone who has been Speaker of the House of Commons is rewarded with a peerage, however Bercow was seen as a thorn in the side of the government during the Brexit debate and it seems that the Conservatives are unforgiving of what his supporters saw as his measured and fastidious application of the rules.

It will be interesting to see just how effective the Lords are at curbing Johnson’s bullish behaviour over the coming 12 months of trade talks with the EU, the next labour leader will be watching with interest - whoever that person will be.

Lords examines European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - News from Parliament
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