Peers back bill to block no-deal Brexit
By Trevor Mason and Nick Lester, PA Political Staff
Legislation aimed at avoiding a no-deal Brexit has cleared a further parliamentary hurdle on its way to becoming law.
The EU Withdrawal (No 6) Bill, which has already been through the Commons, received an unopposed second reading in the Lords.
But Brexit minister Lord Callanan warned it would wreck any prospect of a negotiated deal with the EU.
"The public needs Brexit to be delivered on October 31 and we simply cannot keep deferring through successive and potentially indefinite extensions," he said.
"This Bill is about crippling our negotiations. It's about stopping Brexit. It would tie the Prime Minister's hands, undermine the UK's position and make any further negotiations absolutely impossible."
For Labour, Lord Goldsmith said it was a "simple and necessary" Bill to stop no-deal.
Pointing to a lack of trust in the Government, Lord Goldsmith said it was necessary to constrain Boris Johnson to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU, which would be very detrimental.
Liberal Democrat spokesman, Lord Wallace of Saltaire said the Government could not be trusted so Parliament was justified in tying its hands.
Tory former leader Michael Howard branded the Bill "illegitimate".
Urging peers to reject it, Lord Howard said it was the latest instalment of Parliament's "sad endeavour" to thwart the implementation of the referendum result.
Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Howell of Guildford condemned the "purge" of Tory opponents of the Bill by Boris Johnson as a "major political blunder" and said he hoped this "folly" would pass and they would be restored to the party.
But he was also critical of the Bill, saying further delay would solve nothing.
Tory Lord Cormack hit out at the "vindictive and appalling treatment" of the 21 Tory rebels, describing it as a "blot on our party", which must be expunged as quickly as possible.
His comments were echoed during the debate by former civil service chief and independent crossbencher Lord Wilson of Dinton who said as a non-politician, the mass sacking on the Conservative benches appalled him.
Referring to the dismissal of former chancellor and the longest serving MP Ken Clarke, Lord Wilson said: "I am utterly dismayed to find his contribution treated so cavalierly."
Supporting the Bill, Labour former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain said: "Whatever the Prime Minister's disingenuous protestations, he is running down the clock to crash out of the European Union on October 31 unless we stop him."
Lord Mandelson, a Labour former Cabinet minister and EU trade commissioner, warned: "Crashing out of the European Union on October 31 without a deal would, to put it mildly, be highly sub-optimal for our country."
Following a deal brokered with the Government, the backbench Bill is due to proceed through its remaining stages and complete its passage through the Lords on Friday before returning to the Commons.
Prior to agreement being reached in the early hours of Thursday morning, the Bill had faced the threat of an overnight filibuster as Brexit-backing Tories tried to block its progress.