The reverberations from what Brandon Lewis said yesterday continue. Having spoken to various peers, it is clear that the internal market bill will now really struggle in the House of Lords. Two peers who are far more sympathetic to this government than most in the upper house don’t think that it will pass the Lords before the end of the year, meaning that it wouldn’t be on the statute book for the end of the transition period.
The view of these peers is that Lewis’ comments about breaking international law and the fact that the bill is unlikely to get legislative consent motions from Holyrood, Stormont or Cardiff Bay will make the Lords feel they are justified in holding it up. The nature of the most controversial changes to the bill, attempting to change the provisions of the withdrawal agreement, means that the government can’t appeal to the Salisbury convention – which means that the unelected house doesn’t hold up or obstruct government manifesto commitments.
Now if the Lords does hold the bill up, the government would have the option of attempting to create enough new peers to get it through. But it is hard to believe that any attempt to do this wouldn’t be legally challenged and the Miller decision suggests that the courts might step in at this point.