A ruling on the government's ability to trigger Article 50 independent of a parliamentary vote is expected this week. The Tradefair team takes a look...
"Our case is not against Brexit. It is about ensuring parliamentary sovereignty is maintained and not usurped by Theresa May and her government,"
- People's Challenge founder Grahame Pigney
It sounds like the title of a new Harry Potter novel, but today (17 October) the UK will learn the implications of Prime Minister Theresa May's decision not to allow an open vote in parliament regarding the triggering of Article 50 and the start of negotiations for the nation to leave the EU.
Ever since the UK voted to leave the European bloc in its referendum in June, there has been disquiet surrounding the actual process of the coming negotiations and if it is proper that the government alone will have sway over their outcome.
A 'hard Brexit' is something that many politicians and members of the public would wish to avoid, as while the government is intent on strengthening the UK's immigration policies through Brexit, many individuals who voted to remain feel their voices are not now being heard in the clamour to leave.
The people must have their say
As such, a legal challenge to the Prime Minister's decision to go it alone when determining the UK's future has been issued, led by businesswoman and philanthropist Gina Miller and action group People's Challenge.
"Our case is not against Brexit. It is about ensuring parliamentary sovereignty is maintained and not usurped by Theresa May and her government," People's Challenge founder Grahame Pigney stated.
He argued that just over one-third (37 per cent) of the UK population voted to leave the EU in what was billed as an 'advisory referendum'. Now, the government is saying that what is arguably the most important decision of our lifetime (how to shape our future relationship with the EU) should not be influenced by the people.
"We are making the case in court for the UK's sovereign parliament to make the decisions and to give the government a mandate on the how, when and under what conditions Article 50 will be triggered," he concluded.
Not a parliamentary prerogative
However, the government has strongly defended its stance over EU negotiations so far, with a slogan of recent months, since May took over as PM, being "Brexit means Brexit".
It is a position that government lawyers have strongly defended, claiming the rules of the referendum were clearly stated and the mandate for leaving the EU is solely the prerogative of the elected government.
"The country voted to leave the EU in a referendum approved by Act of Parliament," said the government's leading law officer Attorney General Jeremy Wright.
"There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door, and no second referendum. The result should be respected and the government intends to do just that."
Ultimately, the High Court will make its decision based on the legal framework for Article 50 in UK law and whether or not the government has the right to act solely on the nation's behalf in these coming negotiations.
It will be a groundbreaking decision in either case and should the High Court rule in favour of the government this week, then a Supreme Court challenge is expected to be issued before the end of the year. The issue of Brexit is one that will not go away and today's outcome will have important implications for the whole of the country in the coming years.
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