Along with the Liberal Democrats, the party is on course to force the Prime Minister’s hand in a vote on a critical amendment today.
Through the proposed change to Mrs May’s Data Protection Bill, peers will move to enshrine a series of EU rights in UK law and also defeat the PM’s plan to eradicate the charter from domestic law after Brexit.
The loss would be humiliating for Mrs May who, along with Brexit Secretary David Davis, was planning to use the Withdrawal Bill to take Britain out of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The EU Withdrawal Bill, which formally enacts Brexit, includes a clause saying: “The charter of fundamental rights is not part of domestic law on or after exit day.”
Sir Keir Stammer has slammed Theresa May’s decision to not bring the EU charter into UK law after March 2019. He called the charter’s retention a “red line”.
The Charter sets out a range of civil, political and social rights for EU citizens, but under Tory plans it wouldn’t be enshrined in UK law after we leave the bloc.
Labour believe Article 8, which protects personal data, is an important legal provision and along with the Lib Dems they have the numbers to push the Government into retaining it in British law.
They argue removing it would send a message to the EU the UK is watering down data protection.
Lord Stevenson said: “The government is threatening our chances if establishing a post-Brexit legal framework to permit the free flow of data across European borders.”
Supporters of the amendment told the Independent if the Conservatives believe they “can use Brexit to dilute our rights, they’ll be bitterly disappointed”.
Digital minister Matt Hancock said the block would have huge unintended consequences for the Data Protection Bill.
He told the Sunday Times: “The Data Protection Bill carefully protects privacy while allowing for important exemptions such as protecting the freedom of the press, safeguarding children and maintaining the integrity of professional sports.
“This Labour ploy would place all the exemptions at risk.”
Lord Kerr, architect of Article 50, Lord Pannick, who led the legal challenge against the Government over invoking Article 50, and former diplomat Lord Hannay are believed to be backing the amendment.
Ironically, before joining Theresa May’s team as Brexit Secretary last July, Mr Davis, as a backbencher, took David Cameron’s government to court over its emergency surveillance bill in 2014, citing the charter’s provisions on privacy and protection of personal data.
The bill has started in the Lords so needs to progress in the Commons to be passed into law.