House of Lords votes to give parliament greater power on rejecting Brexit

The House of Lords in London voted by 366 to 268 on Tuesday in favor of changing May's draft Brexit law to give Parliament the ability to send her back to the negotiating table if legislators decide the terms of the U.K.'s exit agreement aren't good enough.

Peers voted by by 336 votes to 131 - a majority of 205 - against letting Britain vote again on whether to leave the European Union at the end of divorce talks in 2019, with the archbishop of canterbury among those speaking against having another nationwide poll.

At the Conservative Party Conference last autumn, Theresa May announced her government would introduce a Great Repeal Bill to end the supremacy of EU law in the United Kingdom, a crucial part of leaving the European Union.

Dick Newby, the Lib Dem leader in the Lords, said his amendment was "based on the principle that having asked the people whether they wished to initiate the Brexit process, only the people should take the final decision".

Net migration from the European Union to Britain hit a record high in the 12 months running up to June's referendum vote to leave the bloc, in which concerns about immigration motivated many Brexit voters.

The two amendments backed by the Lords can be reversed when the Bill returns to the House of Commons, expected to take place on 13 and 14 March, which would pave the way for May to notify European Union leaders of the U.K.'s intention to quit the bloc in time to meet her self-imposed deadline of triggering Article 50 by April 2017.

But it was clear from much of the Lords debate that some of those who were calling for a "meaningful final vote" are looking for a choice that simply isn't there.

"But, there it is, we have an electorate system and a political system in this country which is not of my choosing". We are in effect better prepared, better informed on the needs of business and all sectors of the economy, and we have built up a better understanding of the steps that need to be taken during and through the process to secure the best outcome for the UK.

A Labour Lords source said the ballot, the results of which are expected sometime after 5pm, would deliver "another likely handsome defeat for the Government, given the developing cross-party campaign on this issue". The government must give a voice to the people over the final deal.

The defeat means that the question of a second referendum is all but dead.

The House of Commons has approved legislation which would kick-start the two-year process, but the Lords has already amended the bill and Labour, Lib Dem and crossbench peers are seeking further changes when debate resumes on Tuesday.

If that happens the Bill will go back to the Lords in a process known as "ping pong".

  • Patricia Jimenez