Could House of Lords block Brexit and force 2nd EU referendum?

© Alastair Grant
The House of Lords could stall the process of Britain leaving the European Union - and may even attempt to scrap it, a Tory peer has said.

Baroness Wheatcroft says the unelected Lords is likely to delay any Bill to leave the EU, buying time for a movement in favor of a second referendum to build momentum.

Downing Street dismissed Wheatcroft’s comments, repeating its vague mantra “Brexit means Brexit.

The peer’s remarks come as a high-profile Brexit campaigner admitted the EU referendum result was a shock to the Leave campaign, which did not expect to win.

Former Sunday Telegraph editor Patience Wheatcroft said she hoped a pause in introducing Article 50 could lead to a second referendum and an eventual vote to stay in the EU.

If it comes to a Bill, I think the Lords might actually delay things. I think there’s a majority in the Lords for remaining,” she told the Times.

I would hope, while we delayed things, that there would be sufficient movement in the EU to justify putting it to the electorate, either through a general election or a second referendum.”

Responding to Wheatcroft’s comments, a spokeswoman for the PM said everyone should get behind Brexit.

The PM has been very clear that Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a success of it. That work to prepare for those negotiations is now under way and that will continue to be a priority for this government. Parliament supported the referendum on the EU.

The British people have made their decision and everybody should be focused on getting behind that and making a success of Brexit.

Conservative Party Chairman Patrick McLoughlin has said Article 50 will be triggered before the next General Election in 2020.

However, the government may not be able to invoke Brexit without Parliamentary approval.

Government minister Oliver Letwin told the Foreign Affairs Committee last week that Brexit could be kicked off by the prime minister using the Royal Prerogative.

The courts are set to decide this autumn whether the government can trigger Article 50 without ratification by MPs.

Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who was a prominent Leave campaigner, has admitted the Brexit camp has no plan for Britain after voting to leave the EU.

“I think there was some surprise among some of the figures that we actually won, and won more decisively than we had hoped for,” she said.

I kind of stopped thinking about it because you just keep going and at the end of the day, hope your pile of votes is bigger than the other side’s,” Stuart told BBC’s Westminster Hour.

In terms of accusations of ‘What was the plan?’ the plan was quite clear. We voted to leave. And we showed examples of how voting to leave could be effected and I certainly will make sure now that the government does what the people asked it to do.