John Redwood’s latest blog discussed the Article 50 Supreme Court case.
In the very week that the Supreme Court solemnly considers a case about whether Parliament should debate and vote on an Article 50 letter or not, Parliament holds a debate and a vote on just that topic.
I have explained endlessly to those interested that Parliament can any time debate and discuss Brexit. Indeed, it has chosen to do so on many occasions since the vote, despite the lack of any news as the government awaits the moment to start the process and to announce its negotiating aims. It has not yet had a vote on the procedure for the reason the Opposition did not want one and did not table a suitable motion to hold one.
Treaty issues have long been left to Ministerial prerogative by Parliament for the simple reason that you cannot handle a negotiation successfully with 650 different voices all setting out a position. As this week’s Opposition motion states, it does not help for Parliament to demand that government reveal its bargaining and fall back positions. When Ministers are negotiating Treaties Parliament debates and votes as it sees fit, but leaves all the work and the detail to Ministers. Parliament does not usually want to undermine the national interest by demanding information helpful to those we are negotiating with.
Throughout our time in the EEC/EU Ministers have regularly used prerogative powers to bind us into EU decisions, regulations and judgements which Parliament has been unable to vote on or prevent. Many of these have adversely affected our right to be a sovereign and free people. It was curious that the High Court of England thought that was acceptable yet using the same prerogative powers to bring the right to self government back was not.
I hope the Judges understand three basic points. The first is the referendum was the decision. Government made that clear in Parliament and in a leaflet to all voting households. The second is Parliament can debate Brexit any time it likes, and has done so extensively already. The third is Parliament needs to make up its own mind on what it wants to vote on, and is free to do so.There can be plenty of votes on the Repeal Bill.
The main method of taking the UK out of the EU is the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972. This will be a thorough Parliamentary process, ensuring MPs are fully engaged.
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