From an ideological standpoint, I am opposed to the very existence of the House of Lords, and yet, time after time, they prove to be a pragmatic and liberalising force on British politics.
You may possess strong opinions on Britain’s membership of the EU, but put them aside for a moment, and consider that almost every member of the House of Lords is an expert in their given field, with more insider knowledge than us.
They have opposed the Government because they know that leaving the Customs Union altogether, would be a self-detrimental act unlike any other in modern political history (excluding perhaps the Brexit vote itself).
I am of that rare breed, who at the beginning of the EU referendum campaign was in favour of leaving, and by the end, was advising friends and family to vote remain. I can already hear the cries of ‘project fear’, but no, it was the vision of society laid out by Rees-Mogg, Johnson, and Gove that changed my mind.
The hard-Brexit alliance (European Research Group) consisting of around 35 MPs – Jacob Rees-Mogg and the shadowy group of Tories shaping Brexit – have an inordinate amount of power for a relatively niche group, because of the unfortunate parliamentary arithmetic of the last general election.
Those pro-EU MP’s rallying alongside Chuka Umunna make the situation even more complicated because they draw support from across the political spectrum. The point I’m making is that Theresa May is incredibly weak, desperately wants to cling on to her job, and knows that in the short term, satisfying the ERG can make that happen.
This means that while she might personally believe Brexit, or a ‘hard-Brexit’, is a mistake (remember, she campaigned for Remain), she cannot translate that into policy without putting her own premiership at risk. All of this, alongside the tribal nature of British politics, means that the House of Commons is not an effective place for reasoned debate and compromise, but, the House of Lords is not constricted by the aforementioned reasons (at least not to the same degree), and so just might be.
In summary, I am pleased by the result of the HoL vote.