Tom Goodenough

What the papers say: The Lords’ ‘insidious plot to thwart democracy’

What the papers say: The Lords' 'insidious plot to thwart democracy'
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When the House of Lords voted against the Government's Brexit bill last night, peers won't have been expecting much in the way of thanks in today's newspapers. But the ferocity of the attacks on the Lords could still come as something of a surprise: it’s time for the Lords to go, says the Sun in its editorial this morning in which it accuses peers of trying to ‘hobble the PM’ in Brexit talks. The paper describes the Government’s defeat last night as ‘contemptible’ and ‘short-sighted grandstanding’, and says the session showed that Lords wanted to make it clear ‘how much they care about EU citizens’  -with no regard for British citizens living on the continent. But their virtue signalling is wrongheaded, the Sun says, which suggests instead the vote will merely ‘prolong the uncertainty’ by delaying the triggering of Article 50. The next steps are simple, says the Sun. The Commons must ‘kick it out and free Mrs May’. After that, the paper concludes, the ‘unelected, mediocre, meddling, virtue-signalling cronies’ must go.

This is an ‘insidious plot to thwart democracy’, says the Daily Mail in its equally damning verdict on the House of Lords’ vote last night. The paper talks of an act of ‘betrayal and dishonesty’ and describes the upper chamber in Parliament as the ‘House of Cronies, Dodgy Donors and Has-Beens’. This vote risks ‘seriously undermining’ the Government - and also, as the Sun points out, leaving ‘our own people (living in the EU) high and dry’. By tying up Theresa May’s hands, the Lords have also chosen the wrong target, the Mail suggests. Instead of going after the PM who has been ‘pushing hard for a deal that upholds the rights of all expats’, peers should remember ‘it’s the bloody-minded Brussels bureaucracy’ who are playing politics with peoples’ lives. The Daily Mail concludes its editorial with a warning: ‘If the unelected Upper House persists in seeking to frustrate the people’s will, it will surely be signing its own death warrant’.

‘A gallery of the great and good was on show,’ in the Lords last night, says the Daily Telegraph. But the gathered peers got it wrong. ‘Everyone agrees that EU residents should be treated properly,’ the paper argues. Those in the Lords must remember a simple point however: this bill is simply about giving ‘notice of the UK's intention to leave’. Once Article 50 has been triggered, then it'll be the time for discussion and deal-making about reciprocal rights. So while the intentions of peers might have been noble, this amendment - if only on procedural grounds - shouldn’t stand, the Telegraph concludes.

Donald Trump’s address to Congress on Tuesday excites the Times this morning, which says the speech shows the President has finally found ‘a conciliatory voice’. Gone were the ‘trivial attacks’. ‘Gone was the bleak negativity of his inauguration speech’. Instead, as Trump once promised, it’s clear he has emerged as a ‘presidential person’. This speech was a ‘statement of intent’ delivered in the ‘cadences of a leader rather than an insurgent’, the Times says. Trump promised to ‘set free the dreams’ of the American people. He also vowed to repair shattered inner cities, win the drug war and bring ‘dying industries’ back to life. The only question now is ‘how it will be paid for’ the Times says.

The Guardian is less sure about Donald Trump’s address. Yes, his speech came as something of a ‘welcome relief’. It's also true that the difference between this address and what has come before was ‘striking’. So what explains the change? The Guardian suggests Trump is simply being a savvy politician in realising who his audience was. After all, Congress ‘expects to be treated with respect’, and for a president hoping to unveil an ‘ambitious budget’ next month, he needs the legislature on board. Trump is waking up to the complexities of the job, the Guardian says. And it’s also dawning on the president that - as indicated in his speech - he realises the need to compromise on certain issues. ‘Welcome, however erratically, to the democratic political world, Mr Trump’, the paper concludes.