The Daily Express: Peer explains why House of Lords – not Boris Johnson – could save Brexit with simple move

19 September 2019

By Martina Bet

David Starkey hit out against “the ridiculous” John Major, who is urging the Supreme Court to rule that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful, despite having prorogued parliament himself in 1997 in a bid to delay a report into the cash-for-questions scandal.

Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in July on the promise to deliver Brexit by October 31, “do or die”. However, September has not proved to be a productive month for the former Mayor of London, who suffered two embarrassing defeats in the House of Commons, as MPs passed a bill to block a no deal exit and then pulled the plug on his attempt to call a general election. Both the Labour Party and the Lib Dems made clear their priority is for an election but after October 31, once a no deal Brexit has been avoided.

Without a general election in near sight, speculation is mounting Mr Johnson will be left with no option than to ask for a third delay to Brexit – a move, which has proved catastrophic for his predecessor.

It was the delays to Brexit who arguably made Theresa May’s fall on her sword, and led to the Conservatives’ embarrassing defeat in the European elections.

As the October 31 deadline approaches, Lord Salisbury told why a reformed upper house, not Boris Johnson, could help solving this deadlock.

Lord Salisbury is currently advocating with the Constitution Reform Group (CRG) – an all-party project he convened – for the Act of Union Bill, the first attempt to “devise a coherent plan for what should happen after many powers return from the European Union”.

The blueprint proposes a federal structure for the continuation of the Union, establishing the principle of self-determination among all four parts, as well as radical reforms in Westminster.

One of the most fundamental reforms, the groups say, concerns the upper house, the House of Lords.

The bill offers two alternatives, either abolishing the Lords or deeply reforming it.

The group would like to see an upper house, consisting of 292 elected members and 100 appointed ones.

Lord Salisbury suggested that if the House has the power in its own judgement to trigger referendums, the Brexit conundrum could be solved.

He said: “If a reformed House of Lords is what we get to, it will have the power in its own judgement to trigger referendums.

“If it considers the question in hand is either irreversible, like joining the euro, or it is by common consent of enormous political importance.

“This would help us address the referendum question.”

The Peer noted that it is crucial for Parliament to decide whether there is going to be a referendum and “not the Prime Minister, who does it only for reasons of political expedience”.

Hypothetically, if the no deal bill passed by Tory rebels at the beginning of September, was to go to a reformed House of Lords, peers would be able to trigger a referendum, letting the people decide.

The Act of Union Bill is currently awaiting its second reading.

In the meantime, the cross-party group is developing and expanding the clauses within the Bill and welcoming feedback from those interested in contributing.

The Bill would only come into force if approved by a referendum with a majority of votes cast in the UK as a whole at 65 percent and on a majority in each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

You can access the full article on The Daily Express website here.

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