Lords ‘shouldn’t throw in towel’ on Brexit

Peers should “not throw in the towel early” when it comes to Brexit, Peter Mandelson has said.

The former Labour Cabinet minister believes the House of Lords will force changes to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – the legislation allowing Theresa May to formally start Brexit.

Lord Mandelson, a former EU commissioner, insisted there is a “strong body of opinion” among peers over guaranteeing the future of EU nationals living in the UK and in giving Parliament a vote on the final Brexit deal.

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The Lords will debate the bill on Monday and Tuesday, before amendments are considered the following week.

The Government does not have a majority in the upper chamber, with 252 Conservatives among the 805 peers.

MPs backed the draft legislation unamended as Mrs May seeks to stick to her deadline of starting Brexit talks before the end of March.

Asked if he believed the Government was in danger of being defeated over EU nationals and how Parliament votes on the final deal, Lord Mandelson told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think it is.

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“I think there’s a strong body of opinion, across party and among the independent peers as well, that both these issues are very serious.”

Questioned if there will be a long parliamentary battle between the Commons and Lords, Lord Mandelson said: “At the end of the day, the House of Commons must prevail because it is the elected chamber.

“But I hope the House of Lords will not throw in the towel early.”

Earlier this week, Brexit Secretary David Davis said he was expecting “ping pong” between the Lords and the Commons as peers pass amendments to the bill.

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Justice Secretary Liz Truss told Marr that peers should “recognise the will of the people”.

Lord Mandelson was speaking after former Labour prime minister Tony Blair urged opponents of Brexit to “rise up” against leaving the EU.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “Tony Blair is entitled to his opinion but I think former prime ministers do better when they stay out of the Westminster debate.”


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