Tuesday

19th Sep 2017

UK releases legal arguments on Article 50

  • May and her government argues that there is no further need for parliamentary authorisation for Brexit (Photo: 10 Downing Street)

The British government was forced by a judge to release its legal arguments for refusing to let the parliament decide when and how the UK should trigger the article 50 procedure to withdraw from the EU.

The legal arguments released on Wednesday (29 September) argue that it is “constitutionally impermissible” for parliament to be given the authority to launch the exit procedure.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In a court challenge by a group of UK citizens, the British government argued it is the prime minister's prerogative to trigger the exit process, as the parliamentary act establishing the 23 June referendum did not foresee any further action for the parliament after the vote.

"It was clearly understood that the government would give effect to the result of the referendum for which the 2015 Act provided, and that was the basis on which the electorate vote in the referendum," the legal defence says.

"The 2015 Act did not prescribe steps which the government was required tot make in the event of a leave vote," it added.

"It [the government] cannot be prevented from doing so [launching article 50] by the absence of primary legislation authorising that step," the government argues.

It also adds that “treaty-making and withdrawal from treaties is not generally subject to Parliamentary control”.

“The appropriate point at which the UK should begin the procedure required by Article 50 to give effect to [the notification] is a matter of high, if not the highest policy,” the government’s lawyers argue in the document.

A two-year negotiating period will start once the UK triggers the exit procedure, which prime minister Theresa May is expected to launch early next year.

The EU has so far refused any preliminary negotiations until article 50 is officially triggered.

Challenge

The release of the documents came after the crowd-funded People’s Challenge initiative questioned Theresa May’s authority to trigger Brexit in court without parliamentary authorisation, and last week called for the government's legal defence to be made public.

The judge, Justice Cranston, who ordered the release on Tuesday, said: “Against the background of the principle of open justice, it is difficult to see a justification for restricting publication of documents which are generally available under the rules.”

In its legal defence however, the government says the parliament will have "the role in ensuring that the Government achieves the best outcome for the UK through negotiations".

But the government's legal defence also makes it clear that the local legislations in other parts of the UK will not be able to override the triggering of the exit procedure.

They dismiss the idea that Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will have a say in the divorce procedure.

The government's layers argue that “devolved legislatures” have no competencies over foreign relations issues, including relations with the EU and its institutions.

British prime minister Theresa May earlier assured Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the Remain camp won the Brexit vote, that she would not trigger Article 50 until there is a UK “approach and objectives”.

'Constitutional vandalism'

The People’s Challenge to the Government on Article 50, a crowd-funded initiative that argues for that it is up to the parliament to trigger the exit procedure, was set up by Grahame Pigney.

On the campaign’s website he argues that his goal is not to ignore the Leave voters who opted for Brexit, but to “ensure that parliamentary Sovereignty is maintained and is respected by the Government”, and that the "rights of 65 million UK citizens are protected”.

The campaign calls the government’s actions “constitutional vandalism”.

"By using the Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon this Government will be sweeping away rights at a stroke of a pen without the proper scrutiny of and a final decision being made by our Sovereign Parliament,” they argue.

A hearing for a test case will start on 13 October.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Post-Brexit party games

The British party conference season has started, with Labour re-electing its leader but staying ambivalent on EU relations.

British MPs battling for a say on Brexit

Conservative and Labour MPs want to be able to vote on the government's negotiating position with the EU, with some even considering joining a legal challenge.

Tusk warns UK on harsh realities of Brexit

EU Council chief Donald Tusk told London there will be no winners from Brexit, and no compromise on freedom of movement, yet held out an olive branch for the future.

May: Brexit is 'quiet revolution'

The British prime minister concluded the Tory party conference in the UK by pledging to regain control of immigration and by taking a swipe at pro-EU elites.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives by the Estonian Presidency to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  2. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  3. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  6. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  7. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  8. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  9. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  10. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  11. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted
  12. European Federation of Local Energy CompaniesClean Energy for All? On 10.10 Top-Level Speakers Present the Clean Energy Package