London, 21 Jan. 2020 – Lords passed 300 to 220 an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill in order to guarantee protection to child refugees in the UK after the country leaves the EU. The 18th cross-party amendment was put forward by Labour Lord Dubs. The amendment specifically aims to maintain the rights of unaccompanied refugee children elsewhere in Europe to be reunited with their family members in the UK.
Today’s vote signs the fourth defeat of the Tory led majority in two days when on Monday Peers voted in favour of three amendments: the first from Lib Dem Jonny Oates was to ensure EU citizens resident in Britain will be given physical document showing they have a right to live in the country, passed 270 votes to 229.
The second passed by 241 votes to 205 to remove the power of ministers to decide courts of justice jurisdiction after Brexit with regard to the application to British domestic courts of precedent verdicts and judgments of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). An amendment of vital relevance for the preservation of civil, political and human rights in the UK as put forward to prevent ministers from instructing lower courts to ignore legal precedents.
The third amendment to the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, moved by Liberal Democrat peer Alan Beith to allow the Supreme to make the final decision on cases to be judged with no reference to the EU case la
While the fourth defeat in the House of Lords is being nearly omitted by British media, peers promise their commitment to opposing Conservatives’ threats to founding tenets of British democracy. “I am proud that Liberal Democrat peers have, along with the tireless campaigner Lord Dubs, passed this crucial amendment to uphold our commitments to child refugees – said peer Baroness Hamwee wishing “that MPs will resist government pressure to overturn today’s vote in the House of Commons.”
The Bill is set to return to the House of Commons on Wednesday; meanwhile Number 10 has already said via the BBC, government will reject amendments.
The Tory overall majority of 80 MPs in the House of Commons is enabling the dangerous perception of Lords’ as irrelevant as unable to determine an actual opposition or change to the lawmaking work in the Commons.
A sign for that is the Tory plan to move Lords out of London, with the intention, the government said, to ‘reconnect’ with the whole country. But, besides the appearance of a genuine move to make England content by upgrading it to the same level of London, the strategy looks aimed at alienating the Upper House where Tories do not have a majority, lowering Lords’ political influence and switching off even the argument of the opposition.
Post Brexit era will see whether this will be Lords’ last victory before their exile.