Assailed on all sides, Theresa May is attempting to balance her minority government on a knife’s edge of competing forces. From splits in her Cabinet, to backbench shrinking violet Jacob Rees-Mogg, to EU negotiators and the Daily Mail, May is confronted by opposition everywhere she turns. It is no surprise then that after a string of fifteen defeats on her flagship Brexit legislation in the House of Lords, Theresa May is hoping to crush at least one group of saboteurs.
Under the cover of this weekend’s royal wedding, the Prime Minister is expected to surreptitiously approve the creation of around ten Tory peers, as well as one for the DUP. These peers will be party loyalists, made up of the likes of former ministers Sir Eric Pickles and Peter Lilley. They will be reinforcements, May hopes, that will stymie the embarrassments the Government has faced in the upper chamber, and allow her to push on with her agenda.
Artificially creating majorities for the sort of legislation the Government is trying to pass fixes symptoms rather than actual problems. It saves face, but doesn’t force May to confront the fact that there is no consensus within her own party for the sort of hard Brexit that Tory hardliners are pushing her towards, let alone consensus in Parliament and the wider public. May’s legislation has so far passed through the Commons largely because Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has chosen to enable the Government’s approach, much to the chagrin of many Labour MPs and members.
But the Lords have been unwilling to let this go unchecked. Promoting peers to push through legislation rather than compromising will cause further disaffection, polarisation, and fuel resentment. Theresa May heads a minority Government. Her legislation needs to reflect that.