Brexit: Lords agree to push through bill preventing no deal by end of Friday

The Guardian | Warren Murray and Agencies | 5 September 2019

Peers resolve to return Benn bill to House of Commons for debate ahead of prorogation of parliament

The House of Lords has voted in favour of getting the Benn bill ruling out a no-deal Brexit through all stages of parliament before it is suspended by Boris Johnson.


Around 1.30am on Thursday following late-night debate, peers passed a business motion and were told the bill – which has been passed by rebel Tories and opposition MPs in the Commons – would be returned to the lower house by 5pm on Friday, ruling out the prospect of attempts at a filibuster.

It could then be voted on again by MPs on Monday and presented for royal assent, the Lords heard. Peers are set to debate the Benn bill itself and amendments on Thursday.

Baroness Smith, Labour’s leader in the House of Lords, said the opposition supported the move, and hoped there would be “no further frustrations” of the bill on Friday.

“It has been quite a night. It has been a long debate – and I am grateful to the noble Lords who have stayed the course – it shows the importance of the work we do but also the issue on which we are debating,” she said. “I am grateful that we are now able to confirm that we will be able to complete all stages of the bill in a time-honoured way by 5pm Friday.”

Richard Newby, the leader of the Lib Dems in the Lords, told the chamber he was very pleased that he would no longer need to use his duvet: “I don’t think that carrying on through 24 or 48 hours as we have been doing in a sort of pathetic attempt to set a new Guinness world record … would do anybody any favours.”

The late-night agreement came after Johnson’s bid to trigger an October general election failed amid a string of heavy defeats for the government. The bill supported by opposition parties and Tory rebels to block a no-deal Brexit easily cleared its second and third readings.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has told Boris Johnson that he will not agree to the prime minister’s request for an early election until the bill receives royal assent.

The Benn bill to delay Brexit in order to prevent a no-deal departure – a bill Johnson said would “scupper negotiations” – passed all stages in the Commons on Wednesday.

There were fears the bill could have been stalled in the Lords, with Labour peer and leading lawyer Lady Kennedy of The Shaws accusing the Tory peer Lord True, who submitted a raft of amendments, of time-wasting.

The Lords sat until 1.30am on Thursday when the chief whip Lord Ashton of Hydem said all stages of the bill would be completed by 5pm on Friday.

“We have also received a commitment from the chief whip in the House of Commons that Commons consideration of any Lords amendments will take place on Monday and it is the government’s intention that the bill be ready for royal assent,” he told peers.

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