House of Lords defies No 10 and votes to heavily defeat Boris Johnson's Brexit bill

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVI

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). - Credit: PA

Peers in the House of Lords have rejected sections of Boris Johnson's Brexit bill which would have allowed the UK to break international law.

A majority of 226 peers backed a "regret" amendment to the internal market bill that condemned the disputed provisions. The final vote was 395 in favour and 169 against.

Speaking in support of the amendment, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Fox said: “We all know this bill is illegal and we know it flouts important constitutional issues and threatens devolution.

“More than that, we know it has already eroded trust in our institutions and we know it is damaging the reputation of this country, which promotes the rule of law.

“Finally, and perhaps most insidiously, we know that any law that seeks to permit the executive to break laws is morally wrong.”

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The amendment is likely to be overturned when it returns to the House of Commons.

The move comes as former Commons speaker Betty Boothroyd delivered a devastating assessment of Boris Johnson's government in a speech in the House of Lords.

Baroness Boothroyd, who previously said she could not trust Johnson to even run a bath, said in 47 years in parliament she has "never seen trust in a government fall so far and so fast". 

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The 91-year-old crossbench politician said that "future historians won't need a test and trace operation to find out who was responsible" if there is an economic recession after Brexit, and said that the "blame game" had already begun, with the prime minister scrambling to point the finger elsewhere for the damage created by his Brexit project.

Conservative former leader Michael Howard also expressed dismay at the bill.

Lord Howard, a Brexiteer, addressed the Lords during the bill’s second reading, saying: “I want the United Kingdom to be an independent and sovereign state.

"But I want it to be an independent sovereign state that holds its head up high in the world, that keeps its word, that upholds the rule of law, that honours its treaty obligations.

"I want it to be an independent sovereign state that is a beacon unto the nations. I do not want it to be an independent sovereign state that chooses, as one of the first assertions of that sovereignty, to break its word, to break the law and to renege on a treaty it signed barely a year ago."

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