Government suffers five defeats in House of Lords as Brexit bill returns to House of Commons

The House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

The House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The government suffered five defeats in the House of Lords over the Brexit bill as it returns to the House of Commons for debate.

The Lords has backed two more amendments to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Tuesday, following three defeats on Tuesday on the rights of EU workers legally residing in the UK to have physical proof of their right to remain and the power of courts to depart from European Court of Justice rulings.

The latest defeats came as the government was heavily defeated as peers backed a move to ensure the rights of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the UK post-Brexit.

Later, the government suffered a fifth as peers narrowly backed a move underlining the commitment to the so-called Sewel Convention, which states that parliament "will not normally" legislate for devolved matters without the consent of the devolved legislature affected.

With Brexit day looming on January 31, the bill now returns to the House of Commons.

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The prime minister looks certain to overturn all the defeats using his 80-strong majority.

It will then be up to peers to decide whether to prolong the bout of parliamentary ping-pong or bow to the will of the elected House of Commons.

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Labour, Liberal Democrat and independent crossbench peers ignored repeated ministerial warnings not to amend the bill, insisting their objection was not to stop Brexit but to ensure the legislation was better drafted.

The prime minister's official spokesman told reporters: "We are disappointed that the Lords has chosen to amend the Withdrawal Agreement bill after the Commons passed it unamended.

"We will seek to overturn this amendment as the bill returns to the Commons."

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