Published: Wed, May 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Liam Fox accuses Lords of blocking the 'democratic will' of Brits

Liam Fox accuses Lords of blocking the 'democratic will' of Brits

"Cabinet expressed its strong disappointment at the defeats inflicted on the European Union withdrawal bill in the House of Lords, saying they risked tying the government's hands behind its back in negotiations with Brussels", he told reporters.

The government suffered three more furth Brexit defeats in the House of Lords overnight, taking the total to nine, and Fox's appeal to Labour MPs suggests the government is banking on the support of opposition Brexiters to quash the changes.

In a fresh blow to Theresa May's Brexit plans, the House of Lords voted to give Parliament a decisive say on the outcome of the negotiations. The cross-party amendment, supported by 19 Conservative rebels, succeeded with a majority of 91.

"Now we have the unelected house actually trying to block the democratic will of the British people", Fox told Sky News, adding: "This is a question about whether the will of the British people will be respected or not, and it must be".

He conceded the parliamentary arithmetic was hard in a hung parliament.

He declined to comment directly on whether the government would try to overturn the amendment which, if passed by the lower house, would allow parliament to send ministers back to the negotiating table in Brussels or halt the Brexit process.

The Government warned giving MPs a decisive final say on the terms of the Brexit deal would weaken the Prime Minister's hand in negotiations.

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At a meeting of May's top cabinet ministers, the prime minister and her Brexit secretary, David Davis, led the expressions of disappointment over the Lords' vote.

Key Brexiters want to drop one of the two options put forward by the government.

He said: "If we were in a customs union with the European Union we would have to accept what the EU negotiated in terms of market access to the United Kingdom without the United Kingdom having a voice".

"I don't think there is a customs union that could ever be acceptable", he added.

"So we will be leaving the European Union, we will be leaving the single market and we will be leaving the customs union". "That is not what the public voted for".

Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit Secretary, described the vote to The Guardian as "a hugely significant moment in the fight to ensure parliament has a proper role in the Brexit negotiations and that we avoid a no-deal situation".

Theresa May promised a "robust" response to Lords defeats over Brexit amid concern from her ministers that peers were seeking to "thwart" the UK's departure from the European Union.

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