Brexit bill will not have 'untroubled passage' through Lords, Ken Clarke says

PUBLISHED: 16:01 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:01 16 January 2018

Ken Clarke


It is an "illusion" to think key Brexit legislation will have an "untroubled passage" through the House of Lords, a Tory former chancellor has said.

Ken Clarke said he hoped the Lords would make an "enormous" number of changes to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill when it goes to the other chamber.

He criticised the so-called Henry VIII powers, a term reserved for measures which allow reforms with little parliamentary scrutiny, contained within the Bill, and hit out at the government's approach to issues raised about the legislation's content.

Speaking as MPs debated the Bill at report stage in the Commons, he said: "I hope that the other place will make an enormous number of changes to this Bill.

"The idea that the Bill with all these Henry VIII clauses is going to have an untroubled passage through the House of Lords is an illusion."

Mr Clarke continued: "The House of Lords, I hope, will throw back some of the bizarre extensions of the Henry VIII principle in this Bill but also some of the European things."

He described the Lords as "particularly full of highly distinguished lawyers", adding: "I think some of the lawyers there will not put up with some of this nonsense."

Mr Clarke went on: "This is a pathetic Parliament so far in the way in which it's handled this extraordinary measure before it."

He also questioned why the government was "singling out the Charter of Fundamental Rights to be the only piece of EU legislation which it is to repeal".

He said the government's approach throughout the "unsatisfactory proceedings so far has been not to debate the main issues".

Instead he told MPs that ministers had raised "all kinds of technical, drafting or slightly irrelevant reasons why the proposals that are coming from the front benches on all sides can't be accepted".

Mr Clarke said the Government had uniquely singled out the Charter because their "tidiness of mind" makes them "wish to remove something which is perfectly adequately reflected in other areas".

"I have to say that is not good enough."

He added: "I think the Government today at report stage has the last chance in this House to say why is it repealing the charter, what evil has the charter done, what danger does it think we're being protected from by repealing the charter and so on."

Mr Clarke's fellow Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg warned today that the Lords could face the prospect of fundamental reform if peers attempted to hamper Brexit.

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £13

Support The New European's vital role as a voice for the 48%

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

  • Become a friend of The New European for a contribution of £48. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish)
  • Become a partner of The New European for a contribution of £240. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook
  • Become a patron of The New European for a contribution of £480. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook and an A3 print of The New European front cover of your choice, signed by Editor Matt Kelly

By proceeding, you agree to the New Europeans supporters club Terms & Conditions which can be found here.

Supporter Options

Mention Me in The New European

If Yes, Name to appear in The New European

Latest Articles


Grassroots anti-Brexit campaigners are increasing the pressure on politicians ahead of a series of important votes this year. Here is a list of the events organised across Britain in the coming weeks and months.


Newsletter Sign Up

The New European weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy