Nothing is moving slowly on the political front and since drafting my article on 1st July (Implications of Brexit for Employers) we now have a new Prime Minister. Teresa May has said that “Brexit means Brexit” and so we are to expect that she will move to invoke Article 50 and get the process of leaving the EU underway.
London based law firm Mischon de Reya , backed by David Pannick QC, have been in contact with government lawyers as regards Article 50 and what legal process is required under our constitution in order for a valid decision to serve notice of withdrawal is made. They are preparing a Court challenge claiming that the government cannot lawfully invoke Article 50 without a formal Act of Parliament. In theory, such an act might be blocked in one or both parliamentary chambers, since both have a pro-Remain majority.
Whether this legal challenge is a challenge to democracy in that it goes against the wishes of the 17 million voters who voted to leave the EU, Mischon de Reya have stated on their website: “Nobody is interested in ignoring or overturning the views expressed in the Referendum, which demonstrated that the UK population is deeply divided. But the public have been misled on the outcome of the Referendum being legally binding and the ability of the current or future Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 without approval of Parliament.”
However other constitutional experts disagree. Foreign policy has always been a matter of royal prerogative, exercised by the prime minister or foreign secretary. Martin Howe QC, insists that the Brexit referendum vote not merely permits, but mandates the invocation of Article 50, without the need for a further parliamentary vote.
So the legal challenges to leaving the EU will ensue, but in the end the political pressures may well result in Teresa May deciding to hold a parliamentary vote before invoking Article 50 in any event.
I will keep you updated as developments arise. If you would like to read other legal articles please sign up for my newsletters on my website: www.sunleysolicitors.co.uk
19th July, 2016
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