Lord Michael Heseltine, former deputy prime minister and a senior Conservative member of the House of Lords, has said he will rebel against the Government when the House of Lords debate the Brexit Bill today. Whilst the upper chamber of the British Parliament gave the Brexit Bill an unopposed second reading last week, opposition peers remain committed to amending the Brexit Bill at a later stage. The Government does not have a majority in the House of Lords, and is therefore vulnerable to defeat if opposition peers, including 202 Labour peers and 102 Liberal Democrat peers, combine to oppose the Brexit Bill.
Lord Heseltine, writing in the Mail on Sunday, said he would defy Conservative party orders and vote to amend the Bill to give MPs a vote on the final terms negotiated by the Government on the UK’s Brexit deal, writing that the “…fightback starts here. My opponents will argue that the people have spoken, the mandate secured and the future cast. My experience stands against this argument”. Mr Heseltine confirmed that a cross-party coalition of peers were willing to back the amendment, with a Labour spokesperson estimating that between 10 and 12 Conservative peers are willing to rebel. In addition to the amendment to secure the role of Parliament in scrutinising the Brexit process, opposition peers also want to amend the Bill to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain post-Brexit.
Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has said the Brexit Bill should remain unamended, and in an interview on Sunday stated that there is no possibility of the Government accepting opposition amendments. Ms Rudd asserted that “MPs voted the Bill straight through and we want the House of Lords to do the same”, and said that she hoped Lord Heseltine would “reconsider” his decision to vote for the amendments.