As the Supreme Court has now decided that triggering Article 50 needs to be approved by Parliament beforehand, Dr Catterall suggested that the House of Lords might reject Theresa May’s version of the Bill and propose amendments which could significantly limit the type of Brexit she was aiming for.
He asserts that the House of Lords would be right to do so as even May’s own party was committed to staying in the Single Market during the 2015 general elections, and leaving it was not on the agenda while people were voting in the EU Referendum.
However, Dr Catterall says that the Lords are more likely to go for technical amendments rather than anything which might create the grounds for a ‘peers against the people’ election. They might demand the Bill to include remaining in the Single Market and the Customs Union, he suggests.
If these are to prevent Theresa May from implementing the restrictions on freedom of movement, she would then have two options. “The first would be to vote down the amendments in the Commons, eventually using the Parliament Act procedure in the unlikely event that the Lords refused to back down. The second would be to ask the Commons for a vote to trigger an early election, a vote Corbyn has made clear he will support,” Dr Catterall wrote.
Despite running the risk of the Tories losing, Theresa May might still go for a snap election to give her the authority to drive a Brexit Bill through Parliament.
“However, a contest between peers trying to define what Brexit means and May continuing to try to avoid defining it by going for a ‘clean Brexit’ instead seems the more likely scenario for British politics in the coming months,” Dr Catterall concluded.