Thursday

21st Mar 2019

May warns parliament not to block Brexit

  • May argued MPs should accept the June referendum's result (Photo: Prime minister's office)

British prime minister Theresa May has warned MPs not to block the UK's exit from the European Union and said her government will challenge a court decision requiring parliament's approval for starting the Brexit process.

May wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that she would not allow "the British people's vote for Brexit to be sabotaged".

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She wrote that the government would challenge a ruling by High Court judges on Thursday that triggering the article 50 exit procedure needed a vote by MPs.

The ruling could delay May's plans to start the process before the end of next March.

'Get on with the job'

May warned MPs that they should accept the result of the 23 June referendum.

"Parliament voted to put the decision about our membership of the EU in the hands of the British people. The people made their choice, and did so decisively," she wrote, pledging that the government would "get on with the job and to carry out" the result of the referendum.

"MPs and peers who regret the referendum result need to accept what the people decided," May warned.

Brexit supporters were infuriated by the court's ruling, arguing it was an attempt to overrule the will of the people.

The Daily Mail newspaper called the High Court judges "enemies of the people".

Supporters of Brexit are concerned that pro-European MPs would delay triggering the two-year exit procedure.

"Instead of re-fighting the battles of the past, we should be focusing on how we can come together as a country," May wrote, before travelling to India for trade talks.

Some MPs are already calling on her to spell out Britain's negotiating position in parliament, which she has been reluctant to do, arguing it would be a disadvantage for Britain during the talks.

Last Wednesday May said her government would "not give a running commentary on every twist and turn of the negotiations".

'Political anger'

Opposition Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday seemed to have delivered an ultimatum to May, but then his deputy backtracked.

Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror he would block triggering Brexit, unless May agreed to press for continued access to the EU's single market and guarantee EU workplace rights after Brexit.

"These must be the basis of the negotiations," he said.

Later on Sunday however, deputy leader Tom Watson said the party would not block triggering Article 50.

He told the BBC that Labour will not hold up the exit process.

"The British people have spoken and Article 50 will be triggered when it comes to Westminster," Watson said, adding confusion on what Labour's position is on triggering the exit talks.

UK Independence Party acting leader Nigel Farage however warned that there could be protests if Parliament tried to block Brexit.

"Believe you me, if the people in this country think they're going to be cheated, they're going to be betrayed, then we will see political anger the likes of which none of us in our lifetimes have ever witnessed in this country. Those newspaper headlines are reflecting that," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

The High Court decision's also fuelled speculation May could call for early elections to strengthen her Conservative party's position in parliament.

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