Brexit: High court rules MPs must vote on Article 50

Historic decision curbs Theresa May's bid to bypass parliament


High court judges have ruled MPs must get a vote on triggering Article 50 in a historic ruling that could scupper Theresa May’s bid to bypass parliament on Brexit.

They said government does not have royal prerogative power to give notice of Article 50 being triggered without parliamentary approval.

The verdict is a big win for campaigners and MPs who argue parliament must vote before Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty on EU membership is triggered in March 2017.

However, the government says it will appeal the ruling at the supreme court.

The judges said:

“we hold that the Secretary of State does not have the power under the crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 of the TEU for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has resisted calls for a parliamentary vote before Article 50, fearing MPs could try to block Britain leaving the EU.

The government has suggested parliament will get a vote on the terms of Brexit after negotiations, but could leave the EU with no deal in place if MPs reject the terms.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s former Europe minister, and supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said:

“It was always wrong for the government to try to stop parliament having a meaningful say in how the UK leaves the EU.

The terms on which we leave should be subject to rigorous debate and scrutiny – in parliament and the country.

Parliament should have a clear role in the substance of the Brexit negotiations, not just the process.”

He added: ‘Open Britain is calling on the government to bring forward their substantive plans for the negotiations – in the equivalent of a white paper – to be debated and voted on in parliament before Article 50 is triggered.’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said:

“This ruling underlines the need for the government to bring its negotiating terms to parliament without delay.

Labour respects the decision of the British people to leave the European Union. But there must be transparency and accountability to parliament on the terms of Brexit.”

Tim Farron, leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, said the government must ‘pull its socks up’ and give MPs more say, while Brexiter and Tory trade secretary Liam Fox said he was ‘disappointed’ by the result.

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said:

“Parliament must have the opportunity to debate and vote on triggering Article 50, rather than a group of ministers at the top table having total control over this country’s future place in the world.”

Today’s legal challenge was brought by businesswoman Gina Miller and hairdresser Deir dos Santos.

The High Court ruling follows Article 50’s author, cross-bench peer Lord Kerr, telling the BBC there was wriggle-room on triggering the article, which was ‘not irrevocable’.

See: Theresa May’s Brexit ‘U-turn’ on MPs vote is a hostage situation, not democracy

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12 Responses to “Brexit: High court rules MPs must vote on Article 50”

  1. CR

    Well if Labour MPs vote Article 50 down it will be a huge lifeline to UKIP in our northern and midland constituencies and probably the end of the Labour Party as a national party. Labour will become the party of the islamic inner-cities.

  2. Michael WALKER

    I voted Remain but don’t understand the logic. Parliament decided to ask the electorate’s opinion and The Court now effectively decides Parliament can ignore it if it wishes to.

    I can see tumbrils at dawn..

  3. Mick

    Legally, we the People may be insignificant because referenda are only consultations, or so we’re led to believe. But we don’t need Parliament’s majority of Remoaner MPs to be the final arbiter when we did, indeed, have our say first and foremost.

    With Labour specimens like Millipede and Welsh Windbag II leading the charge, do you honestly think those rats are going to refuse to grab their final lifeline and vote down Brexit? They certainly won’t listen to Corbyn.

    A whole lot of whipping inside Parliament, plus a whole lot of shouting in constituency offices will need to be done to rescue the Public’s verdict. And that goes especially for Lib Dems and many Tory traitors too.

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  5. David Lindsay

    The European Communities Act could never have been repealed except by Act of Parliament, nor could Theresa May’s terms of withdrawal have been enacted into law by any other means.

    This is a complete non-story.

    In any case, May does not even want to win the appeal to the Supreme Court (the what?), and her own party would never have made her Leader if she had had any real intention of leaving the EU.

  6. Mick

    We were always told, at least, the 1972 Act could be repealed. No other authority than the EU itself; but then, they always had a flair for honest dishonesty.

    (Metaphorical) Blood will run the gutters of Westminster if both main parties pull a fast one, express a desire for the EU after this year’s vote. The public will be so so rebellious again. (Perhaps, excepting against the SNP or Lib Dems, as the Scots Nats are crazy for the EU while liberals are just plain crazy. (Indeed, only the Lib Dem policy is for schoolkids to be allowed to act in porn films.))

  7. Jimmy Glesga

    The referendum result was democratic and fair. The losers are going to use all means to overturn the result. The government has a mandate to remove the UK from the EU. The EU gravy train will end and those politicians and hanger on flunkies who will lose their posts should move on and work for a living.

  8. ted francis

    Mick, you mean “blood in the gutters” like in Dublin and Copenhagen when the people were asked to think again? Do I hear the sound of Brexmoaning? I believe I do. Never mind, you can always get those upholders of truth and honesty, Bojo, Govey and IDS etc., to spin a few more monster porkies, that will smooth your fevered brow.

  9. Jumbo01

    The Labour Party must stay out of the Brexit arguement or face a public backlash as mentioned above by CR. I am no Brexit supporter at all as I detail on my website. It is wrong to let public opinion dictate complex political, social and economic matters. The right wing and extreme right wing is growing in Britain at the moment as the outcome of the Brexit Vote demonstrated. The Labour Party should support the notion that the matter of Brexit should be brought before Parliament but it should not be seen to lead on the matter. As for the Labour Party being finished in the North and Scotland i do not support this view. This is a matter to resolve their own internal policy affairs to make them more appealing to voters in these areas. Currently the Labour Party is no more than a slightly less right wing Tory Party and until it shifts it’s stance on Clause IV of it’s constitution it cannot be aything else. Basically it is the Labour Party’s objections to returning to it’s commitment to Clause IV of it’s constitution that prevents it being a proper Labour Party. This is what makes it so unappealing to voters in the North and Scotland. Until the Labour Party decides where on the political Atlas it resides then it will always be weak on policy. Currently it is slightly to the left of the Conservatives but it still remains in the same hemisphere as them. Traditionally ( until Blair ) Labour was a pole apart from the Tories. As it stands voters cannot be bothered to vote for Labour because they look so much the same as the Tories. Until matters change and Labour can offer something different to the Tories then the Labour Party will always be weak in the North and Scotland and because of this parties like the Scottish Nationalists will take their votes. I was hoping that Corbyn would have realised this by now and acted on the matter of Clause IV as a matter of urgency – however all we have seen is more complacency from him on this matter. He wants the left on his side but so far we have not seen anything radical. As long as this is left to continue then Corbyn will be weak and open to challenge and the Party will remain indecisive and ineffectual.

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  11. Mick

    ‘Mick, you mean “blood in the gutters” like in Dublin and Copenhagen when the people were asked to think again?’

    With repeated polls, variable turnouts can see manipulated results. If there’s any moaning, it’s from the sore losers who want to run contests over and over.


  12. Mick

    “The right wing and extreme right wing is growing in Britain at the moment as the outcome of the Brexit Vote demonstrated.”

    Ah, so it’s the bogeyman again, when things don’t go your way.

    No, we had a record turnout for this poll, with BOTH sides showing fairly.

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