Theresa May has been urged by the House of Lords Speaker not to stuff the upper chamber with Tory peers or threaten it with abolition to ensure her Brexit plans get through Parliament.
Lord Fowler said the Lords would not “sabotage” Brexit, although he insisted peers must keep their role in “improving” legislation from the Commons.
His intervention comes as the Prime Minister awaits a Supreme Court ruling expected this month on whether she must get Parliament’s approval before triggering the formal Brexit process under Article 50 of the EU treaties.
If the court rules against the Government, Mrs May expects legislation to approve the triggering of Article 50 to pass through the Commons, given Labour’s commitment not to block or delay Brexit.
But there have been suggestions that the PM’s plan to begin the process by April may be held up in the Lords, where the Tories do not have a majority, by anti-Brexit peers.
Lord Fowler’s insistence that peers should be able to “improve” legislation could still spark concerns that the Lords will seek to amend any Article 50 Bill and therefore potentially hold up its passage through Parliament.
Writing in a national newspaper, the Lords Speaker said: “The Lords recognise the primacy of the Commons based on the fact that they are the elected chamber and we are not.
“In return most MPs value the check that scrutiny by the Lords provides. We are not here to sabotage legislation - we are here to improve it.”
Cabinet ministers have reportedly told Mrs May to threaten to abolish the Lords if peers seek to frustrate Brexit but the Lords Speaker warned her against it.
He wrote: “Some politicians seem intent on creating discord between the House of Commons and the House of Lords.