Friday

20th Jan 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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Brexit men launch anti-EU website

Westmonster, modelled on hard-right US websites, said it was: "Pro-Brexit, pro-Farage, pro-Trump. Anti-establishment".

News in Brief

  1. Report: Hollande thinking of EU council bid
  2. Italy to hold 70% of Monte dei Paschi bank
  3. Nato hit by 500 cyberattacks every month
  4. Hundreds of migrants face German security review
  5. Outgoing US vice-president warns Europe on Russia
  6. German far-right party calls for end to WWII guilt
  7. First Chinese freight train arrives in Europe
  8. Europe has no vision, says Italian minister

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey

Latest News

  1. 'Be patient,' ECB chief tells Germany
  2. EU cannot copy Australia's offshore asylum model
  3. Brexit men launch anti-EU website
  4. Germany details its 'Marshall Plan' for Africa
  5. IMF predicts 'pain' for UK, as banks prepare London exit
  6. EP deal could help Tusk keep Council job
  7. UN struggles to monitor fate of readmitted Syrians in Turkey
  8. European space chief: Moon village is 'more or less a fact'