(Picture: parliamentlive.tv) Prime Minister Theresa May sits behind the Speaker (back row) as Baroness Smith of Basildon speaks in the House of Lords, London, during a debate on the Brexit Bill
Prime Minister Theresa May sits behind the Speaker (back row) as Baroness Smith speaks in the House of Lords (Picture: parliamentlive.tv)

Theresa May made a highly unusual appearance at the House of Lords today as peers began their two-day debate on the Brexit bill. 

The prime minister sat close to the throne as Lords leader Baroness Evans said the Government had a ‘strong mandate’ from the people and elected MPs to trigger Article 50.

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‘This Bill is not the place to try and shape the terms of our exit, restrict the Government’s hand before in enters into complex negotiations or attempt to re-run the referendum,’ she added.

The European Union (notification of Withdrawal) Bill has passed major hurdles in the House of Commons.

But unlike with the lower chamber of parliament, the government does not have a majority in the Lords, meaning amendment is possible.

Prime Minister Theresa May sits behind the speaker (top left) as Baroness Williams of Trafford speaks in the House of Lords, London, during a debate on the Brexit Bill. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 20, 2017. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Theresa May sits behind the speaker (top left) as Baroness Williams of Trafford speaks in the House of Lords (Picture: PA Wire)

Labour’s leader, Baroness Smith, said her party would not stand in the way of the Bill’s passage but insisted the Government needs to improve the legislation.

She said: ‘We will not block, wreck or sabotage the legislation before us. But I have also said neither shall we provide the Government with a blank cheque.

‘We will seek improvements, we’ll encourage ministers to make reasonable changes and possibly, just possibly, we may ask our colleagues in the Commons to reconsider on specific issues.

‘That is not delaying the process, it is part of the process.’

The Brexit Bill

(Picture: PA) A copy of the Bill to trigger article 50, in front of the Houses of the Parliament in London.
(Picture: PA)

Once the government has formally triggered the leaving process, but whatever means is deemed necessary, the next bill that MPs wil concern themselves with is being referred to as the Great Repeal Bill.

In a nutshell, this will real the European Communities Act 1972 and also incorporate all existing law into UK law.  

It wont actually come into effect until the actual date Britain leaves the EU, which will be at least two years down the line.

Of course, this will be complicated by which EU regulatory bodies the government may wish to remain under. 

Theresa May has already stated that Britain will opt for a ;hard Brexit’ by leaving the single market, however, Europhile MPs may seek to water down the terms of leaving the EU, causing some friction. 

Liberal Democrat leader, Lord Newby, pointed out the upper chamber had the power to ask the Commons to think again on any piece of legislation and hoped the Government would accept this.

‘There is no significant body of opinion in this House which is seeking to oppose the passage of this Bill,’ he added.

‘There’s a world of difference between blocking the Bill and seeking to amend it.

‘Brexit is the most important single issue which has faced the country for decades.’