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Suella Braverman holds the cards if she wants her boats Bill to remain unscathed by the Lords

Warnings that unelected peers would be defying the will of the British people if they make changes to Government legislation that ministers do not like have become increasingly familiar.

But Home Secretary Suella Braverman is being disingenuous at best by calling into question the constitutional position of the House of Lords as it debates her highly controversial Illegal Migration Bill.

As seen from Wednesday’s debate, peers are lining up to make amendments to the Bill to safeguard protections for slavery victims and children that the legislation waters down, and to ensure the UK continues to abide by international law, rather than ignoring the European Court of Human Rights.

But few peers are seriously thinking about blocking the legislation. In fact, a wrecking amendment from the Liberal Democrats more or less died on arrival after Labour said it would not support it.

Frontbencher Lord Coaker explained this is because it would be overridden immediately by the Government using the Parliament Act, and would deprive the chance for peers to make amendments.

This shows that Mrs Braverman and the Government hold the cards if she wants her Bill to remain unscathed as it becomes law.

A Labour Lords source says there are already signs of “wide concern” among peers, and urged ministers to “listen to the warnings and advice, especially in relation to modern slavery, child safeguarding, safe and legal routes of passage, and crime enforcement against the gangs”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivers his sermon as he leads the Easter Sung Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. Picture date: Sunday April 9, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story RELIGION Archbishop. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
With Justin Welby leading the charge, some Conservative MPs fear that the Illegal Migration Bill could be ‘dismembered’ in the House of Lords (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Judicial oversight, international law and the lack of an impact assessment are also set to be “key pinch points” they said.

The danger for the Home Secretary is that these concerns among peers are replicated among her own MPs.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, supported by Rishi Sunak and No 10, was largely credited with the successful talks that defused rebellions from the Tory right and left during the Bill’s passage through the Commons.

Mrs Braverman may have to count on them again if she is to strip out any Lords amendments when the Bill comes back to the Commons, as is customary once it completes its passage through the upper House.

But if peers manage to water down or change the Bill, it will be because the Home Secretary and her ministerial colleagues have failed to win over their own MPs, not because the Lords are defying the will of the people.

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