United Kingdom government suffers new Brexit defeat as Lords demand environment safeguards

Ceria Alfonso
May 18, 2018

The House of Lords has dealt another blow to the government's Brexit bill after voting to uphold the EU's environmental rules after the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

A cross-party amendment requires that European Union "environmental principles and standards" be maintained post Brexit.

The cross-party amendment, which has former Tory Cabinet minister John Gummer (now Lord Deben) as one of its backers, requires the government to take steps to ensure that Brexit, "does not result in the removal or diminution of any rights, powers, liabilities, obligations, restrictions, remedies and procedures that contribute to the protection and improvement of the environment".

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He added: "We have heard many times that the objective of the Bill is to ensure that everything is the same the day after Brexit as it was the day before".

May has to get the bill approved by both chambers of parliament well in advance of Britain's exit on March 29, 2019, but the House of Lords, the unelected upper house, has demanded major changes that will force a showdown over coming weeks. Now the bill is due to return to the Commons, where lawmakers will debate the amendments.

That process, known as "ping pong", is not yet scheduled, but will be a key test of May's ability to govern effectively and to deliver on her Brexit plans with just a slim working majority in the Commons, where she relies on the support of a small Northern Irish party.

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