Douglas Carswell

21 FEB 2017

Peers are playing with fire

The unelected oligarchy in the House of Lords could vote to amend the Article 50 Bill today. They don't seem to recognise how self-defeating that would be.

Some peers – Lord Mandelson, for example – think they can get away with obstructing the referendum result. That attitude betrays an incredible lack of self-awareness.

The most the upper house could do is delay Brexit, not block it. But if peers do decide to dig their heels in, they risk triggering a constitutional crisis that they will definitely lose.

The House of Lords did just that a century ago. Peers thought they could block David Lloyd George's "People's Budget". Instead, not only did the budget pass, but the Lords ended up losing their power of veto.

"Surely, peers today can't be quite that tone deaf", you might think.

Really?

The upper house may no longer be made up of hereditaries. But it is no more representative for being stuffed with ex-MPs, donors, and party placemen instead.

Today's House of Lords is an excellent cross-section of the House of Commons ten years ago. It is almost designed to be outdated.

There is widespread consensus that the House of Lords is long overdue for radical reform. Peers could start that process today.

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