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  /  Politics   /  House of Lords vote means Brexit is going to be all over the news again

House of Lords vote means Brexit is going to be all over the news again

The House of Lords has created a further headache for the government after voting down two key pieces of Brexit legislation.

Peers backed an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill that would force the government to explain what it has done to pursue remaining in a customs union, by 348 votes to 225 – a convincing majority of 123.

The government suffered a significant rebellion on the amendment tabled by crossbench peer Lord Kerr, which received the backing of 24 Conservatives, including former ministers Lord Patten, Lord Heseltine and Lord Willetts. A separate amendment that would limit the power of ministers to slash red tape without the approval of parliament was also passed, by 314 votes to 217.

The debate on the government’s key piece of Brexit legislation, in a packed chamber, was watched by the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer. After the customs union vote, he said: “The passing of this cross-party amendment is an important step forward. Theresa May must now listen to the growing chorus of voices who are urging her to drop her red line on a customs union and rethink her approach.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DeExEU) said: “we are disappointed that parliament has voted for this amendment. The fundamental purpose of this bill is to prepare our statute book for exit day, it is not about the terms of our exit. This amendment does not commit the UK to remaining in a customs union with the EU, it requires us to make a statement in parliament explaining the steps we’ve taken.”