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Hundreds of peers could now have a huge influence on Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan with the European Union as they scrutinise the Government’s Internal Market Bill. The proposed legislation risks overriding key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement signed with Brussels last year and could subsequently break international law. Despite threats of legal action from the European Commission, the Prime Minister is refusing to stand down on the Internal Market Bill.
A showdown is set to take place in the Lords on November 9, with peers planning to make the unusual move of voting on amendments to the Bill during the committee stage.
There are several proposals to rip out clauses that seek to break international law, and the expectation is the Government will be easily defeated on this in the upper chamber.
The votes were set to take place at the end of November, by which time the UK had hoped a trade deal with the EU would have been sealed, but bringing them forward piles even more pressure onto Mr Johnson – as crunch talks between the UK and the bloc remain ongoing.
Furious critics have had enough of the House of Lords and are demanding it be scrapped or at the very least, forced to undergo dramatic reform.
Ben Harris Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, told Express.co.uk: “The House of Lords has long been unfit for purpose.
“When it was reformed in 1999, whilst aristocratic membership had become indefensible, the reforms merely created a new aristocracy of cronies and donors to the powerful.
“It has now become the largest parliamentary chamber in the democratic world, despite being entirely undemocratic itself.
“It’s no surprise that a body made of the last 20 years of the British establishment offers another example of establishment opposition to Brexit.
“The vast majority of the Lords are pro EU. Many are financial beneficiaries of EU membership such as Lord Heseltine who has openly suggested ignoring the referendum result entirely.
“These people are dangerously out of touch with the electorate and democracy. They are enemies of democracy and therefore the public, and the best adverts for their own abolition.”
Patrick Sullivan, chief executive of the Westminster-based Parliament Street think tank, accused peers of using their “unelected power” to try and thwart historic democratic decisions such as Brexit.
He said: “For too long now the established political class has dined out on the House of Lords using its unelected power to try to stymie and even stop democratic decisions like Brexit.
“Peers voted countless times to block and complicate the path of Brexit. We have not taken democratic power back from Europe only to see it thwarted by the Lord. They have to go.
“The Lords, by definition, exists to temper, tame and in the case of the Internal Market, try and block the will of the Commons. They oppose anything that remotely poses a threat to their interests.”
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS), an independent campaigning organisation aiming to champion the rights of voters and improve democracy in Britain, claimed voters want the House of Lords “overhauled” and replaced with a “proportionally-elected second chamber” that people can trust.
An ERS spokesman told Express.co.uk: “The Lords lack any legitimacy to challenge legislation, and voters across the spectrum want to see it overhauled now.
“The Lords is supposed to improve legislation, but voters need a say over who sits in there. Otherwise, it will simply be seen as an unaccountable private member’s club.
“It’s time for a second chamber that’s fit for purpose, and which the public can trust. More members are joining by the day, and while many peers work hard, this situation can’t go on.
“We need a proportionally-elected second chamber that can stand up for the nations and regions of the UK.”
The House of Lords has previously strongly defended the role it plays, with a spokesman telling Express.co.uk: “The House of Lords is a highly effective and busy Chamber, performing a vital role of improving legislation and holding the Government to account.
“In the last financial year, the House considered 779 amendments to legislation and asked the Government 6,482 written questions. This is the important process of improving legislation and holding the government to account in action.”
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