Brexit Secretary David Davis has warned the House of Lords to do its “patriotic duty” and back the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.
The bill will now need to be approved by peers before the Prime Minister can begin exit talks under Article 50 of the EU treaties, which she has promised by April.
The Liberal Democrats have vowed to continue trying to amend the legislation after it comes to the Lords on February 20 to ensure a second referendum on the final exit deal achieved by Theresa May.
A government source was quoted saying the Lords will face an “overwhelming public call to be abolished” if it attempts to frustrate the progress of the legislation.
And Mr Davis told unelected peers not to try to change the simple two-clause bill as it was passed by MPs unamended, which he said “reflected the will of the people”.
But asked if the Lords would face “dire recriminations” if it amended the bill, he said: “I’ve seen these bloodcurdling things, they’re silly. I expect [the House of Lords] to do its job and to do its patriotic duty and actually give us the right to go on and negotiate that new relationship [with the EU].”
A Downing Street spokesman also played down the threat, saying the government welcomed the Lords paying an important role in scrutinising the Article 50 bill.