Labour peer says Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is being 'rammed through' Parliament and brands ministers as 'arrogant'

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Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town criticised the government's Brexit bill in the House of Lords (Picture: PA)
Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town criticised the government's Brexit bill in the House of Lords (PA)

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is being rammed through parliament by ministers acting in an “arrogant” and “stupid” manner, a Labour peer has said.

Baroness Hayter told the House of Lords that scant regard was being paid to the “normal democratic method of law-making”.

The opposition spokeswoman’s comments came before the prime minister’s Brexit deal cleared its first major hurdle in the House of Lords, following a warning from Downing Street not to derail the process.

Peers backed, without a vote, the second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, enabling the UK to leave the EU on 31 January.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the Stormont Parliament Buildings in Belfast, Northern Ireland, January 13, 2020. Liam McBurney/Pool via REUTERS
Prime minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal is moving through the House of Lords (Reuters)

But the legislation is set to face stiffer scrutiny in its committee stage, with peers likely to force votes on contentious issues at report next week.

Opposition peers are expected to try to reintroduce provisions allowing unaccompanied child refugees to continue to be reunited with their families in the UK after Brexit during later stages of the legislation's consideration.

But peers are divided on how far to push their opposition to parts of the legislation, with some saying the Lords must do its proper job of scrutiny while others warn that to amend it will lead to further public distrust and calls for abolition of the unelected Upper House.

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Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town said the government was “determined to allow no changes” to the bill.

She said: "This is both stupid because it will mean corrections having to be made later but also arrogant with scant regard to our normal democratic method of law-making."

She accused the government of a "shameful disregard of the rights of vulnerable refugee children to be reunited with their families here".

The Liberal Democrat leader in the Lords, Lord Newby, said: "The fact that the government has a large majority and has indicated that it has no intention of accepting any changes whatsoever to the bill is no excuse for failing to scrutinise and challenge its detailed provisions.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town speaking in the House of Lords during the debate on the Commons motion passed Wednesday which sought to ensure there was a legal requirement on the Prime Minister to seek an extension to Article 50 to prevent a no-deal over Brexit. (Photo by House of Lords/PA Images via Getty Images)
The government's Brexit bill has passed its first hurdle in the House of Lords (PA/Getty)

"Nor from voting to secure changes which we believe are in the interests of individuals or the country as a whole."

Brexit minister Lord Callanan said backing the bill, which has already cleared the Commons, would allow parliament to honour the result of the 2016 referendum, "get Brexit done and focus on our other national priorities".

Lord Callanan said the deal gave certainty to businesses, protected the rights of citizens and "ensures we regain control of our money, our borders and our laws".

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