Jewish peers have said they intend to “play their part” in historic House of Lords debates in the coming days, amid threats to filibuster any Bill passed by MPs to require a Brexit extension.
Their potentially starring role follows momentous parliamentary events on Tuesday and Wednesday, in which MPs defeated the Government to take control of the House of Commons order papers, to force through a law mandating Boris Johnson to ask Brussels if the UK could delay leaving the EU.
If such a Bill passes through the House of Commons, as seems likely, it will progress to the Lords, where peers could stymie it by debating dozens of hastily-levied amendments over endless hours until time runs out and the Bill fails to pass.
If, by Sunday evening, the Bill still has not passed through the upper chamber, it will have run out of time before Parliament is prorogued – or suspended – on Monday, by which time Jewish peers could have played their part in British history.
A spokesman for Lord Jonathan Sacks said the former Chief Rabbi was “not planning to participate” but Conservative Jewish peer Lord Howard Leigh, a senior partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance, said: “I will be playing my part. We’ll see how the day goes.”
Jewish Liberal Democrat peer Lord Monroe Palmer likewise said he would “be taking part at this hectic time at Parliament,” adding: “I expect to be here all night Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, there are even rumours of sitting on the weekend.”
He added: “My resolve is to do all I can to stop UK crashing out of EU with no deal. I go beyond that in that my aim is to keep the UK in the EU. This may require a Peoples Vote.”
Meanwhile Jewish peer and leading barrister Lord David Pannick QC said his “focus” was on preparing to represent businesswoman and campaigner Gina Miller in the Divisional Court, arguing before the Lord Chief Justice on Thursday that the prime minister’s unprecedented five-week prorogation of Parliament last week was unlawful.
Conservative peer Baroness Ros Altmann said peers “may even be sitting through the night,” after hosting a Jewish Leadership Council tea to celebrate Rosh Hashana on Wednesday, “despite being in the middle of the most momentous debate”.
Cautioning against the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn taking the keys to 10 Downing Street, she said: “I am desperately concerned that if we do head to a no-deal Brexit, the chaos it would cause would increase the risk of an antisemitic prime minister. I feel we must prevent no-deal, for which there is no democratic mandate.”
- OPINION: Twin pincers of Brexit and antisemitism leave us in a political pickle
- British Jews face being sidelined by Succot election
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.