This week's debates about the House of Lords are eerily reminiscent of arguments over Europe back in 2015by Jason Reed / January 21, 2020 / Leave a comment
In last month’s general election, the country voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. In doing so, voters steered well clear of the Brexit Party. That is why, a few days before election day, Nigel Farage announced that it would soon seamlessly morph into something entirely new, to be called the Reform Party.
Farage has removed his Eurosceptic flag from Brussels and is planting the flag of his latest anti-establishment punt slap-bang in the middle of the British establishment itself: the House of Lords.
The red benches, and the doddery folk who sit on them, are perhaps not where you would have expected the nation to begin focussing its attention as Brexit day looms. Nonetheless, other party leaders have since joined Farage in addressing the Lords’ future, catapulting the issue to the forefront of British politics.
Boris Johnson is reportedly weighing up the Lord Salisbury proposals to transform the upper chamber into a ‘House of Regions,’ giving Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and northern England greater parliamentary representation and, crucially, scrapping the current system of unelected patronage.
Never ones to let a bandwagon pass by without leaping aboard, Labour has also decided to get in on the act. Rebecca Long-Bailey, who remains the most likely victor in the party’s leadership contest, came out of nowhere all guns blazing to declare that the Lords should be abolished and replaced with an elected Senate.
In the latest development in this exciting new saga, the government has decided to use the Lords as the headline act in its mission to show the constituencies formerly known as “the red wall” that it is very grateful indeed for their votes. The proposal is that the upper house should be moved out of London altogether—with York and Birmingham the two leading candidate cities for its relocation.
In a bizarre twist, Jeremy Corbyn, who is now well over a month into—and around a quarter of the way through—his resignation, has waded into the debate by propelling his former chief of staff Karie Murphy (who is drowning in allegations of mishandling anti-Semitism cases and whose role is likely to be scrutinised as part of the EHRC’s investigation of her party) and former Commons Speaker John Bercow (who used to be a Conservative MP) onto the red benches with life peerages.
This could prove problematic for the next…