‘Brexit bill’ expected in parliament ‘within days’ as Supreme Court ruling rocks government
The British government has pledged to introduce a Brexit bill in parliament “within days” in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling which found that Parliament must be given a vote on the terms and timing of Britain’s exit from the EU.
Mixed reactions have been pouring in from across the political spectrum, with Remainers welcoming the ruling and many Brexiteers branding it as an “establishment stitch-up.”
The decision came as a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May, who had sought to use her executive powers to dictate the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU.
Brexit Minister David Davis
Giving the government’s official response in Parliament, Brexit Minister David Davis said the ministers accepted the court’s ruling and would introduce a Brexit bill “within days.”
“This government is determined to deliver on the decision taken by the people of the United Kingdom in the referendum granted to them by this House to leave the European Union.
“So we will move swiftly to do just that. I can announce today, that we will shortly introduce legislation allowing the government to move ahead with invoking Article 50, which starts the formal process of withdrawing from the European Union.
“This will be a straightforward Bill. It’s not about whether or not the UK should leave the European Union, that decision has already been made by the people of the United Kingdom. We will work colleagues in both houses to ensure this bill is passed in good time for us to invoke article 50 by the end of March this year,” the Brexit minister said.
Davis also promised that bill will be presented in such a way as to allow substantive amendments and that Parliament will have “great influence” over the Brexit process.
Shadow Brexit Minister Keir Starmer
Starmer has urged the government to forgo a one-clause bill and follow the “normal procedures” of the House of Commons and House of Lords.
“I think it would be against the spirit of the judgment if the government tried to introduce a one-clause bill. The judgment clearly envisages the normal procedures, and that would involve amendments and consideration in both houses. So I hope now we’ll have the proper and full debate and a proper role for parliament as envisaged,” he said.
Iain Duncan Smith MP
The former work and pensions secretary attracted a barrage of criticism by railing against the Supreme Court ruling on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show.
“You’ve got to understand that, of course, there’s the European issue, but there’s also the issue about who is supreme – Parliament or a self-appointed court.
“This is the issue here right now, so I was intrigued that it was a split judgment, I’m disappointed they’ve decided to tell Parliament how to run its business.
“After all, there was a vote before in December overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50, so they’ve stepped into new territory where they’ve actually told Parliament not just that they should do something, but actually what they should do, and I think that leads further down the road to real constitutional issues about who is supreme in this role,” he said.
However, a legal expert and blogger known as The Secret Barrister has deemed Duncan Smith’s conclusions “provably false.”
“There’s no issue about who is supreme between Parliament and Supreme Court. It’s Parliament,” the anonymous lawyer said on Twitter.
“The Court expressly did not tell Parliament how to run its business. It clarified what the govt could not do unilaterally. The Supreme Court is not self-appointed. It was established by Parliament by section 23 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005,” he noted.
Gina Miller is the businesswoman who joined hairdresser Deir Dos Santos and a group of campaigners to challenge Theresa May, first in the High Court and later in the Supreme Court.
Speaking outside the court on Tuesday after her victory, she said: “Only parliament can grant rights to the British people and only parliament can take them away. No prime minister and no government can expect to be unanswerable or unchallenged. Parliament alone is sovereign.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron
In an open letter to his Labour counterpart, Jeremy Corbyn, the Liberal Democrat chief said his party will block the Brexit bill if the government does not promise to hold a second referendum on EU membership.
“I am clear that the Liberal Democrats will not vote to trigger Article 50 if the public are not guaranteed a referendum on the outcome of the government’s negotiation, where people can decide to accept the deal the Government makes and leave the European Union, or reject the deal and remain within the European Union. That is a red line,” he said.