On Thursday, the Conservative Party in the UK decided not to pursue their filibuster of the bill intended to stop a no-deal Brexit. Why did they cancel their plans to filibuster it?

See https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/politics/news/106309/lords-agree-pass-anti-no-deal-brexit-bill-after-tories-ditch-filibuster for one of many source. I have been looking for a more informative answer than just "it would be a bad look for them."

  • Most likely they got tired and wanted to go home. Sep 8, 2019 at 7:52
  • 9
    I believe that the main reason behind all these Brexit moves is a conspiracy to provide question material to politics.SE
    – Taladris
    Sep 8, 2019 at 14:14
  • 3
    The Lords never want to add to a controvosy, in case public opinion turns to abolishing them.
    – Caleth
    Sep 8, 2019 at 15:03
  • Because Downing Street told them not to bother, but get the bill passed. It would have passed anyway, eventually. And having prorogued parliament Johnson didn't want to waste any time as he hoped to get a vote through for a general election. As it stands, he may well run out of time this week for what he wants to do - and he won't have an election in place. So having run out of time he finds himself "hoist by his own petard".
    – WS2
    Sep 8, 2019 at 21:37
  • @WS2 : "he hoped to get a vote through for a general election" He had no hope of the opposition agreeing to a GE, him calling for one can only have been posturing for the purpose of 'laying blame' & nothing else, to claim Johnson 'expected' (or even merely 'hoped') to win is implausible.
    – Pelinore
    Sep 9, 2019 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


It looks like the Tories in the House of Lords had a different (and arguably important) reason for the filibuster, and it wasn't something decided by Boris or Tory MPs. It wasn't the case that they didn't want the new law to pass, but rather, they were opposed to the guillotine motion Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour) wanted to introduce to make sure the bill was passed on time. The Tory peers believed the guillotine motion would introduce a dangerous precedent for the future: they argued that the key feature of the House of Lords is that they take as much time as it is needed to discuss and amend the bills. To quote Earl Howe (Conservative):

I will make some brief remarks on the amendment of my noble friend. I focus, as other noble Lords will do, on the practical effects of this Motion. Its main effect, as has been said, is a guillotine. Setting aside the issue of precedent, I do not think that one can dismiss this as some kind of run-of-the-mill measure. The practical effects of the guillotine will be wide ranging and deeply damaging to the ability of the House to scrutinise legislation as fully as it needs to.

In the end, Labour and Tory peers came to agreement: Labour wouldn't introduce the guillotine motion, and the Tories wouldn't obstruct the proceedings and would make sure that the bill completes the passage through the Lords by 5pm on Friday. To quote Lord True (Conservative):

It is extraordinary that, when one is trying to round something off amicably, some people mutter in that way. The purpose of all the amendments—the noble Baroness on the Front Bench opposite was extraordinarily gracious on this point—was to guard against the guillotine, something that the noble Baroness said was not desirable in this House. As far as I am concerned, we will give an undertaking that we will abide by any usual channels agreement, as Back-Benchers in this House always do. Certainly, if another attempt is ever made to bring forward a guillotine Motion of this kind, it can expect the same sort of resistance, irrespective of the issue concerned.

The details are in the House of Lords Hansards from 4 September 2019. The agreement was announced at 1.09 am.

  • I assume the opening line should be 'dropping the filibuster'
    – Jontia
    Sep 8, 2019 at 12:12
  • @Jontia No, the opening line should be "filibuster" -- the point is that the filibuster wasn't to protect no-deal, but to stop the guillotine.
    – cpast
    Sep 8, 2019 at 12:21
  • @Jontia No, I didn't mean "dropping the filibuster". They had different reasons for starting the filibuster in the first place.
    – michau
    Sep 8, 2019 at 12:22
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    So 90 amendments were placed into the Bill bill in response to a presumably early amendment instead of rejecting that amendment itself?
    – Jontia
    Sep 8, 2019 at 16:13
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    @Jontia The Tories don't have a majority in the Lords, so they had no way to reject it.
    – michau
    Sep 8, 2019 at 18:55

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