Peers chose to make their second alteration to the Article 50 Bill by supporting an amendment that requires Parliament’s approval for an EU divorce deal or even for Britain to leave without any deal.
Critics have accused peers of using the amendment to create a ‘veto’ over the historic Brexit vote by the UK public on June 23 last year.
Peers backed the amendment with 366 voting in favour and 268 voting against.
Responding to the House of Lords vote, Brexit Secretary David Davis charged peers with seeking to “frustrate” Brexit.
The Cabinet minister, who entered the House of Lords to keep a watch on the peers’ debate this afternoon, said: “It is disappointing that the House of Lords has chosen to make further changes to a Bill that the Commons passed without amendment.
“It has a straightforward purpose – to enact the referendum result and allow the Government to get on with negotiating a new partnership with the EU.
“It is clear that some in the Lords would seek to frustrate that process, and it is the Government’s intention to ensure that does not happen. We will now aim to overturn these amendments in the House of Commons.”
Tory MP and leading Brexit supporter Dominic Raab said: “It’s undemocratic for the Lords to give themselves a veto over Brexit, and this flawed amendment would only encourage the EU to offer us a lousy deal.
“I expect MPs will reject it.”
Richard Tice, co-chair of Leave Means Leave, said: “Any businessperson worth their salt knows that this will undermine the PM’s negotiating position and damages the national interest.
“Unelected, unpatriotic peers are embarrassingly out of touch with basic negotiating techniques. They should be ashamed.”
The amendment demanding a ‘meaningful’ vote on the final Brexit deal had been brought by crossbenchers Lord Pannick and Lord Hannay as well as Labour’s Baroness Hayter and the Liberal Democrat’s Lord Oates.
MPs will now come under pressure to throw out the House of Lords amendment when the Article 50 Bill returns to the House of Commons next week.
Theresa May has claimed if the Government were to accept the amendment it could encourage the EU to hand Britain a bad Brexit deal in a bid to keep the UK in the bloc.
The Prime Minister has previously assured MPs and peers they will have a vote on the Brexit deal, but this is likely to be on a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ basis.
Leading Remainer and Liberal Democrat MP Nick Clegg said: “The Lords have rightly stood up for parliamentary sovereignty and refused to write the Government a blank cheque for hard Brexit.
“The Commons must now find the nerve to do the same.
“Our elected representatives must be offered more than just a bad-deal-or-no-deal ultimatum at the end of the negotiations – the parliamentary equivalent of being asked whether you would prefer to lose an arm or a leg.
“I would urge MPs of all parties, including Brexiters who campaigned to Leave on the basis of parliamentary sovereignty, to stop Parliament being neutered.
“Parliament has a long history of ratifying treaties. What is the Government scared of? If they cannot bring back a deal they are prepared to put before MPs, then it cannot be a deal that is good enough for Britain.”
Last week, the House of Lords voted in favour of a previous amendment over the rights’ of EU nationals currently living in the UK.
The Article 50 Bill – designed to hand Theresa May the power to formally notify Brussels of Britain’s EU departure – had initially been passed unamended by the House of Commons before becoming bogged down in the House of Lords.
March 7th, 2017: Express