‘A constitutional crisis’.
These were the words used by some politicians to describe what could happen if the House of Lords were to block the Brexit bill. Well, yesterday they did just that.
To be fair, the Lords didn’t completely block the bill. It actually passed it, but with an ammendment that was voted down by the Commons a few weeks ago. The ammendment in question was one that would safeguard the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK to remain here after Brexit. Prime Minister Theresa May said that she agrees with the bill in principle, however, she wants to begin Brexit negotiations without this obligation. It could work to her advantage to be able to use it as a bargaining chip in exchange for safeguarding the rights of UK citizens who currently live elsewhere in the EU.
But what does this actually mean? Actually, very little. The bill will go back to the Commons, who will be able to vote against the ammendment (and it most likely will). Then it will become legislation.
In my opinion, the most significant consequence from this saga will be that further questions will be asked of the Lords. There is already a growing movement in favour of reforming the House, but this will only exagerate claims that an unelected body had too big an influence on governmental proceedings. OK, they haven’t prevented Article 50 from being triggered, but for other types of bills they are able to prevent them from becoming law. Expect to hear more about this in the coming months.
As for Brexit, we are now very close to the process getting underway.