The first reading of the bill in the Lords happened following the vote last Wednesday, and the Lords have already started tabling suggested amendments (running list here) which will be debated and voted upon on February 20th and 21st. Many of the amendments mirror those tabled in the Commons, asking for involvement of the devolved parliaments, continued EEA membership, guaranteed status of EU citizens and continued membership of European schemes such as Horizon 2020, Erasmus and Euratom.
The bill is expected to have made its way through the Lords by 7th March, although if amendments are made it returns to the Commons where MPs will once again debate and vote on whether to keep them. This part of the process, known as “ping-pong” sees the bill repeatedly passed from Commons to Lords until an agreement on the final text is reached. This is the most likely stage for the bill to be held up, although peers will be very aware that being seen to frustrate the process could lead to dissenting cries from the public and the government. The Lib Dems in particular are still looking to achieve a promise of a referendum on the final deal, while the SNP and Plaid Cymru will be looking to protect their voice in the process. If the bill passes through to the 3rd reading by the Lords on March 7th, it will receive royal assent, if not the government’s Brexit timescale may start to look shaky.