Lib Dem peer Lord Teverson told the Government to 'bring it on'
Last night, MPs overwhelmingly voted in favour of the Government’s Article 50 Bill, which would hand the Prime Minister the power to formally notify the EU of Britain’s departure.
The legislation will now pass to the unelected House of Lords for rubber-stamping, with Brexit Secretary David Davis telling peers to do their “patriotic duty”.
It is feared the majority pro-Remain House of Lords could attempt to delay the triggering of Article 50, or tie the Government’s hands during divorce talks by adding a series of amendments to the Bill.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has already vowed his party’s 102 peers will try to add amendments in the House of Lords, where the Government does not have a majority.
The short Bill passed through the House of Commons unaltered.
A Government source told the BBC the future of the House of Lords would be under threat if peers attempted to wreck the Bill.
They said: “If the Lords don't want to face an overwhelming public call to be abolished they must get on and protect democracy and pass this Bill."
But Liberal Democrat peer Lord Teverson today welcomed the threat to scrap the upper chamber.
He posted on Twitter: “So if the Lords messes with the Article 50 bill we'll be abolished, hmmm . . . bring it on #LibDems”
The Liberal Democrats saw their bid to introduce House of Lords reform as part of the coalition government blocked by Tory ministers in 2012.
Lord Teverson’s fellow Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger told Mr Davis on Twitter: “You tell Lords ‘do your patriotic duty’.
“You can count on Lib Dems to do that, but you won't like it.”
And ex-Labour prime minister Tony Blair’s former spin chief Alastair Campbell also mocked the Government’s threat to unelected peers.
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He posted: “Govt threatening to abolish House of Lords if they block Brexit. Could be the best double whammy of all time! Go for it peers!!”
So if the Lords messes with the Article 50 bill we'll be abolished, hmmm . . . bring it on #LibDems
— Robin Teverson (@lordtev) February 9, 2017
Govt threatening to abolish House of Lords if they block Brexit. Could be the best double whammy of all time! Go for it peers!!
— Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) February 9, 2017
bring it on #LibDems
Lib Dem peer Lord Teverson
Peers were also encouraged from the House of Commons by SNP MP Pete Wishart.
He told MPs in the chamber this morning: “Our unelected friends have been threatened with abolition if they dare mess with this Government's Bill. I'm sure they're now quaking in their ermine if they don't do their patriotic duty as the Secretary of State said.
“I offer nothing other than encouragement to these fine tribunes in ermine who will now pick up the case.
“For us it's very much a win-win whatever the outcome is here.
“So can I say to the Lordships, reach for these barricades and take on this Government.”
At the last general election, the Liberal Democrats stood on a manifesto calling for the House of Lords to be reformed and peers given “a proper democratic mandate”.
A Liberal Democrat spokesman told Express.co.uk: “The Liberal Democrats tried to reform the House of Lords in the last parliament. It was the Conservatives who blocked that!
“In the Lords the Liberal Democrats will be working to ensure that the people, not just Theresa May and her three Brexiteers, get to vote on the final deal.”
A Number 10 source later distanced Downing Street from the threat to the House of Lords, claiming peers have an “important role in scrutinising and debating the Bill”.
They added: “A Bill that passed with no amendments and gives effect to the will of the people. We welcome them exercising this role.”
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Brexit supporter, has previously called for the creation of 1,000 new Leave-supporting peers to swamp the House of Lords if it attempts to delay Brexit.