House of Lords could delay Brexit, peer claims

Baroness Wheatcroft Image copyright Getty Images

Conservative peer Baroness Wheatcroft has said the Lords could withhold approval of Article 50, the mechanism for leaving the European Union.

There is currently some disagreement over whether Article 50 would need to come before Parliament.

But former journalist Baroness Wheatcroft said if it did, "the Lords might actually delay things".

The government has previously stated that Article 50 could be triggered through use of the royal prerogative.

Speaking to The Times, the former editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal Europe and the Sunday Telegraph said that she hoped delays in the Lords of any potential Brexit legislation would lead to a second referendum.

A legal challenge on whether the government can trigger Article 50 without the authorisation of Parliament will be heard in the High Court in the autumn.

'Wholly inappropriate'

Lady Wheatcroft said that she did not want the Lords to stand in the way of the UK leaving the EU at the moment, but added: "However, if it comes to a bill, I think the Lords might actually delay things. I think there's a majority in the Lords for remaining."

Asked whether she would support peers delaying Brexit legislation she said: "Yes I would.

"And I would hope, while we delayed things, that there would be sufficient movement in the EU to justify putting it to the electorate, either through a general election or a second referendum."

Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted that "Brexit means Brexit" and that her focus is on securing the best possible deal for the UK outside the EU.

Lord Bridges of Headley, Minister for Exiting the EU, told peers in July: "The government's position is that there is no legal obligation to consult Parliament on triggering Article 50", since "it affects the position in international law and not in domestic law".

Constitutional historian and Conservative Lord Norton of Louth told the BBC that even if the courts find that it is not a prerogative power, "it would be wholly inappropriate for either House to try to prevent the government from implementing the result of the referendum".

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