UK ministers attack Britain's upper house over Brexit vote

UK ministers attack Britain's upper house over Brexit vote

Just hours after Britain's upper House of Lords voted to give Parliament -- rather than the government - the powers to block or delay a final deal on departure from the European Union, trade minister Liam Fox has hit back saying that unelected lawmakers were "trying to block the democratic will of the British people".

Peers voted by 335 votes to 244 in favour of an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill despite government warnings that the vote would put Britain at a disadvantage in negotiations with the EU.

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.

A second defeat saw peers insist that Parliament should be given a say on the Government's mandate for trade talks with Brussels while a third was aimed at making sure refugees in Europe would continue to be allowed to join family members in the UK.

It was seventh of nine defeats in the last two weeks for the government, which says the European Union withdrawal bill is purely a technical document to "copy and paste" European Union law into British law and guarantee a smooth Brexit. May can try to overturn the changes, which have to be agreed by both houses of parliament before they become law.

It was the government's seventh defeat during the Report stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and several more are forecast. It would let the Commons decide what happens next if MPs reject the final deal - potentially sending the prime minister back to the negotiating table.

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Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine and ex-ministers Lord Patten of Barnes and Lord Willetts were among 19 Tory rebels to support the cross-party amendment.

"Whatever our party affiliation, our duty as parliamentarians is to our country and our conscience", he said.

"We will now consider the implications of the House of Lords' decision".

Leavers' angry tirades against the vote were countered by passionate Remainers, such as Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, who called the vote "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".

Crossbench peer Lord Malloch-Brown, chairman of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said: "This feels like a turning-point".

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