Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg warns peers not to hamper Brexit

The House of Lords could face the prospect of fundamental reform if peers attempt to hamper Brexit, prominent Tory Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned.

The upper chamber would be left looking "ridiculous" if peers tried to force a second referendum on the British public, he suggested.

The high-profile MP, who has been tipped as a potential Conservative leader, also suggested that more cash would be needed for the NHS and councils should consider building more homes on green belt sites.

The North East Somerset MP said the Lords contained "retired Eurocrats" who risked creating a "peers versus the people" situation.

The Government has already suffered one defeat during the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill in the Commons and faces even tougher battles when the legislation enters the Lords.

He warned:  "If the Lords in their wisdom - and a lot of them are very pro-European - decide to try and frustrate, then the Lords will, as an institution, get into difficulties."

In a podcast on the Conservativehome website, Mr Rees-Mogg told peers not to push for a second referendum on EU membership.

"A second referendum would be very dangerous territory for the Lords because it would be seen as the characteristic European hatred of democracy, so if you vote the wrong way you get made to vote again until you vote the right way.

"It would be seen as a blocking amendment but I also think then Leave would win, at which point the Lords would look stunningly ridiculous and there would be very great pressure for fundamental reform."

On domestic politics, Mr Rees-Mogg said the NHS was "clearly under strain" as a result of winter pressures including the flu outbreak.

"In reality, austerity in the NHS for seven years of 1% real increases is against what has happened in its previous history and is going to be very hard to continue with, however much there are limited resources," he suggested.

Peers have been warned not to frustrate the passage of Brexit legislation (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Peers have been warned not to frustrate the passage of Brexit legislation (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

On the need for more homes to be built, Mr Rees-Mogg said "not all green belt land is high-quality, beautiful rolling countryside, some of it is pretty ugly scrub land".

Mr Rees-Mogg suggested there was now a greater readiness to build homes on green belt sites.

"If, in 2010, you had said to a Conservative association we should build on a green field, let alone on the green belt, it was quite shocking.

"Now, if you say 'look we have got to think about green fields', people are saying to me 'what about the green belt, we can't just exclude everything that's historically been in the green belt'.

"I happen to think the voters and our members are ahead of the politicians in recognising that to allow people to have houses that they want to live in, that they like and can then buy, we are going to have to build more."

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