U.K. Government Threatens House Of Lords With Abolition Over Brexit Bill

Brexit protection helmet
A cyclist wears a pro-Brexit badge on her Union Jack-themed helmet, Parliament Square, London, December 5, 2016. Toby Melville/REUTERS

The British government has threatened Parliament's unelected upper house with abolition if it attempts to block Brexit.

The bill authorizing the government to trigger the exit mechanism from the EU, which was passed by Parliament's lower House of Commons on Wednesday, must now be passed by the House of Lords, an unelected chamber of "peers"—mostly notable figures nominated for their previous service in politics or other areas of public life.

The chamber's elite nature, and the fact that its members do not need to campaign for re-election, means a majority of its members were in favor of remaining in the EU before the Brexit referendum last year.

But pre-empting any attempt to block the bill, a government source told the BBC: "If the Lords don't want to face an overwhelming public call to be abolished they must get on and protect democracy and pass this bill."

In the Commons, many MPs who had opposed leaving the EU still voted for the bill. It passed the chamber by 494 votes to 122.

Brexit Secretary David Davis called on peers to "do their patriotic duty" and support the bill.