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Commons leader warns peers against undermining will of voters over Brexit

Peers should not undermine the will of those who voted Brexit, a senior minister has said after the UK Government suffered 14 defeats over key legislation.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said the Lords has made significant improvements to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which transfers EU law into UK law, linked to devolution.

But she warned the upper chamber should not undermine the desire of voters who backed the UK leaving the EU at the 2016 referendum.

Mrs Leadsom also claimed Brexit legislation is not being held up after Labour suggested the Government is parking key Bills in order to avoid defeats.

Ministers face a battle if they want to overturn amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, including over the customs union and single market, when it returns to the Commons.

During business questions, Mrs Leadsom said: “There is concern that whilst the House of Lords provides a fantastic revising house to improve legislation, they've made significant improvements to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill that the Government has very willingly accepted - including on looking at the Bill as it relates to the devolved nations.”

“It's great to see the progress with the Welsh Government, that they have been willing to accept the latest proposals and it is a great shame that the Scottish Government has not been willing to do so, but we do hope to be able to do that in due course.”

“What I would say is that what the purpose of the House of Lords isn't to do is to undermine the will of this House and, very importantly, is not to undermine the will of the majority of people in this country who voted for the United Kingdom to leave the EU.”

Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz earlier asked if MPs will be able to shortly debate amendments made by peers to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

She said: “Can the Leader of the House say when the Customs Bill and Trade Bill have their report and third reading and, more importantly, when the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill will be introduced?”

“Can the Leader confirm that the Government is not being cynical and parking the trade, customs Bill and the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and introducing the legislation to enact EU law under the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill after the negotiations are complete, so as to avoid rebellions?”

“The Leader will know all this legislation can return at any time before the end of the session, which is now May 2019.”

“This is unprecedented and the Government is effectively subverting democracy.”

“The Government has said it wants to extend the session of Parliament owing to heavy legislation and yet not tabling any important legislation.”

Mrs Leadsom noted the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill's third reading in the Lords takes place next week and it will then return to the Commons.

She added: “Other EU Brexit Bills will be coming forward in due course also. There is no hold-up.”

“As (Ms Vaz) and all honourable members will appreciate, there are very complex negotiations under way and it's right we bring forward these Bills at the appropriate time - as indeed we will do.”

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