Of the main reasons that a lot of people voted for Brexit, “taking back sovereignty” away from “un-elected officials” in the EU was a popular one. So one has to assume that those voters must be terribly confused by our own House of Lords – who are a full and complete part of our democracy – challenged our sovereign House of Commons over a matter of UK immigration law.
What too many don’t know, but they really should…
I am often left quite shocked at how little many of the general public understand about our political and legal structure. To be entirely honest, there is no excuse at all for anyone in their late twenties not to have a cursory knowledge given the fact they would have gone through the Citizenship learning introduced to the National Curriculum around 2000 for secondary schools. UK immigration law might be more specialist, but sometimes making bold demands over immigration when you know nothing UK immigration law can make you look at sound a little ignorant.
Put simply, the House of Lords is our own unelected House that oversees the work of the Commons. Laws cannot be created solely by the House of Commons, just as Article 50 could not be triggered soley on the say-so of the Prime Minister. Mrs May had to put it to a Commons vote – democracy on behalf of the people – which had to then be passed to the Lords. That Article 50 has now been returned to the Commons with suggested amendments – mainly surrounding the treatment of EU nationals residing in the UK.
But that has upset Mrs May, and now there are suggestions that the Tories wish to push the new vote on the Bill through without the Lords’ amendment.
Disagreeing on UK Immigration Law? Oh, Lords: what have you done now?
Isn’t it interesting how the Tories only lose their temper with the Lords when they get challenged by them? There are plenty of Bills that get passed as Laws we never hear about. But when the media is watching, and the Lords do their duty – which is to be there to challenge the Commons – they throw their dummies out of the pram, call the Lords “interfering,” and denounce them as a waste of time and money.
This made me reflect on all the things the Lords had “interfered” with in recent years, and I found three interesting examples:
- October 2015: They challenged Working Tax Credit cuts
- March 2016: Cuts to the ESAs
- April 2016: Immigration Bill
In the latter example, the Lords suggested new clauses that were intended to ensure:
- allow asylum seekers to work if their claims have not been processed within six months
- give overseas domestic workers the right to change employer once in the UK and to extend their visa for up to 2 years.
- introduce judicial oversight to the immigration detention regime
- prohibit the detention for immigration purposes of pregnant women and relocate 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees from other European countries to the UK.*
They hardly seem like anti-democratic, Ghouls of Government. In fact they seem to be giving the little man, the everyday man, the struggling man, a fairer crack at the whip, so to speak. Be it working families, disabled people or those unable to work due to illness, and now European nationals in the UK all seem to be in the sight-lines of the Lords. They are not trying to invent new UK Immigration Law or defy the Government. They are just saying that some reasonable treatment be shown.
The ultimate irony…
Those who voted for Brexit were crying out for less immigration, more national sovereignty, and less overbearing power from unelected officials in Europe. Voters wanted the power back in the democratic hands of the people. So it seems ultimately ironic that it is the sovereignty of the UK which is fighting with the UKs own unelected House over policies that affect the voters on the ground. Moreover, the Lords are also standing up for the same EU nationals who ensure that our public services survive.
But Theresa May is angry because she wants UK citizens in EU countries to be promised safety first. A lot of people are very angry over being used a bargaining chip in her game, and she has clearly forgotten that these are hard working people – and on the whole, they had no part of the vote that has led to this.
Is it about time the EU made it clearer that such bargaining should not be the power of the only country that threw the towel in? The UK voted out. We jumped ship. We can’t expect to do that and still shout back commands to the captain about how to sail the seas.
The situation seems simple to me: unless Theresa May is fully prepared to be completely vindictive, she might as well just afford EU nationals who were in the UK prior to 23rd of June Permanent residency.
She should stop hiding behind the sovereignty the Brexit party lied about.
*Quote taken from Migrants.com.