U.K. Lords Seek to Defeat May One Last Time on Key Brexit BillBy
Peers seek more environmental protections after EU departure
Unelected upper chamber already defeated government 14 times
The upper house of the U.K. Parliament will seek to inflict a final defeat on Prime Minister Theresa May over her flagship piece of Brexit legislation on Wednesday.
The latest blow would come with an amendment to maintain European Union environmental standards after Britain’s departure. The Lords have already defeated the government on 14 previous amendments and the opposition Labour Party foresees another bruising on this one.
The unelected Lords have complicated May’s Brexit strategy by approving amendments pushing for her to keep Britain in the EU’s customs union and in the European Economic Area, crossing negotiating red lines set by the premier. While the elected House of Commons can overturn them, it’s by no means certain that all changes will be struck down.
This latest amendment would compel ministers to set up “an independent body with the purpose of ensuring compliance with environmental law by public authorities.” The peers will debate the proposed change shortly after 3 p.m. in London during the legislation’s final stage in the Lords.
In keeping with previous successful amendments, the latest one has sponsors from across the political spectrum, including John Gummer, a Conservative former environment minister, John Krebs, an independent, and Maggie Jones of Labour.
Amendments are unusual in a bill’s third reading in the Lords, but lawmakers had agreed with the government to wait on a consultation on environmental protections -- published last week -- before deciding whether to press their case.
“The document out for consultation is a bitter disappointment to non-governmental organizations and individuals concerned about our environment standards post Brexit – particularly when we have relied on Europe to deliver for us in the past,” Jones wrote on Tuesday in a blog post. “The proposed watchdog is a toothless imitation of current EU institutions’ powers to intervene and compel governments to act.”