MPs to seek assurances as they are given power over Brexit
PUBLISHED: 19:53 24 January 2017
MPs will seek assurances they will be given a say over Brexit negotiation details after Supreme Court judges ruled parliament must give the green light to Britain's exit from the European Union.
Prime minister Theresa May is likely to receive the backing of most of her MPs and many opposition MPs to kick-start divorce proceedings with Brussels after the judges voted by a majority of eight to three that minister must seeking Parliament’s approval before triggering Article 50.
Lord Chancellor and Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss delivered a staunch defence of the judiciary with minutes of the judgement after she was criticised for defending three High Court Judges quickly. She issued a statement describing the justices as “people of integrity and impartiality”.
Brexit minister David Davis said legislation will be introduced “within days” to ensure the Government can stick to its timetable of triggering the process of leaving the European Union by the end of March.
Shadow business secretary and Norwich MP Clive Lewis, who indicated last week that he would be willing to vote against triggering Article 50 under Theresa May’s current plan for Brexit, did not indicate how he would vote following the ruling.
But said he wanted to make sure parliament could hold the government to account throughout the process.
“It is not just about reporting back, it is about clear red lines of what they can and cannot do. If the government acted in the manner of decent upstanding democrats they would give parliamentarians the right to scrutinise in detail this process, and to hold them to account. Until that is done, triggering A50, and in effect giving a blank cheque, or half filled out cheque, isn’t sufficient.”
“Norwich voted to remain, the country voted to leave. I respect that decision. But it is incumbent upon me as a representative of Norwich to get the best possible outcome for both country and city. One that minimises the economic chaos and damage that this government is embarking upon with its current strategy. One, which at present, will decimate the livelihoods of many in the city I represent. I will do all in my power to make sure that is minimised,” he added.
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer indicated his party could seek changes to the legislation as he called for the government to produce a formal White Paper setting out its Brexit plans.
“On issues as important as this it would be wrong for the Government to seek to minimise the role of Parliament and to avoid amendments,” Sir Keir told MPs. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has signalled that he will ask his MPs to vote to start negotiations.
Former University of East Anglia graduate and the UK Independence Party’s only MP in parliament Douglas Carswell said any attempt to veto the Brexit bill in the House of Commons would prompt a general election.
“Any MP who votes against it knows that there would likely be a general election if the Commons vetoed the will of the people, and they would likely lose their seats,” he said.
If the House of Lords tries to veto the legislation “800 new Brexit peers” should be created, Mr Carswell added.
“I think it is pretty clear now Article 50 will be triggered by the end of March and this is great news for the majority of people in East Anglia who want us to take back control of our country,” he added.
Broadland MP Keith Simpson said that on the Conservative side of the house only veteran Europhile Ken Clarke had indicated he would vote against Article 50.
A former aide to William Hague who had backed remain, Mr Simpson said he had no plans to put any amendments down, but did have concerns about Brexit.
“This one of the biggest breaks in British foreign policy and business policy for decades. It is a major event. And I am not sure what the impact of this is going to be on my constituents.” But he said that he had been clear he would vote to trigger Article 50, adding: “The public voted to leave the EU, but they didn’t say under what circumstances.”
Belinda Brooks-Gordon, the Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson for the East of England, reiterated the Liberal Democrat demand for people to be given a say over the final Brexit deal. North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb abstained in a recent Commons vote, saying he could not vote against triggering Article 50, He not indicated what he will do when the bill comes before parliament.