Back in 2012, I worked for an organisation on the forefront of trying to help the then live Clegg Bill to change the Upper House from the current appointed House of Lords into an elected second chamber become law. So I was in the front row for all of the speechifying done by MPs around how vital the House of Lords is to the British style of democracy. As a result, it is now very entertaining to me to see a lot of previous cheerleaders for the House of Lords go a bit sour on “the other place” all of a sudden. It’s a bit like sovereignty of parliament or separation of powers: only any good if it does what you want it to do.
Back in 2012, we were told repeatedly that the House of Lords was indispensable; now, these same ermine clad folks just better watch it. All of the language is careful at this stage, of course, but that probably won’t last. The Lords would be “unwise” to do anything to delay Brexit, say some MPs. Be that as it may, the whole point of the House of Lords is to slow down and revise legislation in order to make the House of Commons have a second look. So if they do decide to slow down Brexit, you can’t say they aren’t doing their job, can you?
Of course, in the end, Theresa May could just flood the chamber with the numbers needed to get legislation through. This aspect of the way the Lords works has always been the most corrupt, the prime minister of the day’s ability to create as many peerages as he or she likes. Of course, we have just heard from all portions of the press about how awful and inappropriate Cameron’s hefty post-premiership honours list was. But when Brexit is involved, anything can be looked past in this regard for certain outlets and members of parliament. I recall Douglas Carswell once letting the worst aspects of a corrupt left-wing establishment in Greece slide because it was a chance to slam the ECB, so trust me, Brexit trumps all with a certain set.
Remainer hearts shouldn’t get too hopeful about what the Lords can achieve in terms of Brexit not taking place. The chamber can delay things. Yet as already mentioned, the government has plenty of ammunition in terms of getting what they want through. Funny isn’t it how once again the House of Lords, often the great evil to the Left that must be done away with, are once again the beacon of hope to the very same people who now want someone to soften or block Brexit. The moral: the House of Lords is apparently great when it is doing something you like and needs to be abolished when it starts doing stuff you don’t – whether you be of the Left or the Right.