Peers in the House of Lords – dubbed “revolutionaries” by Labour’s Diane Abbott – have ripped apart Priti Patel’s nationality and borders bill for a second time in a humiliating defeat for the government.
The bill suffered more than 10 defeats in the House with only one going in the government’s favour.
It follows similar rejections in the upper chamber earlier in the year and means that ministers could be forced to make concessions if they are to ease the bill through the second chamber amid an increasingly tight legislative logjam.
The government is expected to prorogue parliament later this month, but still has a number of major bills to take through both houses.
The usual convention is that the Lords is expected to give way if MPs make it plain they do not back amendments from peers. But the lack of remaining time means a miscalculation by the government could force concessions or cause the bill to fall.
Peers defeated the government in demanding extra safeguards over a measure that would allow people to be stripped of their British citizenship without warning.
In another government defeat, peers backed by 163 votes to 138 to remove a broad provision making it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, limiting it to only those who breach a deportation order.
In yet another blow to the Conservative administration, a demand for unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Europe to be allowed to join a family member legally in the UK was backed by 181 votes to 144.
“Narrow, mean-minded and vindictive”
The Conservatives’ Lord Cormack, who was an MP for 40 years, said the bill was “largely unnecessary … narrow, mean minded and at times approaches the vindictive” and is “in danger of breaching international law but also international humanity”.
A motion put forward by Labour’s Lady Chakrabarti received support from several senior Conservative peers. She argued that the UK courts should have a role in ensuring that the bill is compliant with the UN 1951 convention and the 1967 protocol relating to the status of refugees.
“As a public and constitutional lawyer, I take the primacy of the other place very seriously. This is neither a money nor manifesto matter. It gives effect to the government’s own stated policy of refugee convention compliance in times when this could not be more important. No reasonable government should object,” she said.
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