The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was published yesterday by the Government.
It has a simple, brutal purpose: to hand back to the Prime Minister all of the power she wrongly claimed she had during the Miller case, so she can proceed as before.
Although she promised Parliament a vote on the final negotiated withdrawal “deal” with the EU at last week’s Lancaster House speech, that means almost nothing, because a vote on a motion has no legal effect (as the Supreme Court noted in Miller) and because the notification she intends to give will be unqualified. If Parliament has concerns when it is told about the terms of any deal, it will find it hard to do much about them at that late stage if it is limited to a vote on a motion. And no deal is guaranteed.
The Bill does not need to be this way. An amendment has been urgently drafted by the People’s Challenge legal team (Helen Mountfield QC, Gerry Facenna QC, David Gregory, Jack Williams and John Halford) and is set out here along with its Explanatory Note.
This is not a wrecking amendment, nor one that ‘blocks Brexit’. It’s purpose is to enable Parliament to fulfil its constitutional role throughout the Article 50 withdrawal process; the role the Supreme Court confirmed in the Miller case in which the People’s Challenge group, was an interested party.
If it is supported by MPs amendment or peers and passed, the amendment ensure that Parliament authorises the Prime Minister to notify the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU under Article 50(2) in a manner which:
- guarantees that it will be Parliament that must decide to approve the terms of any withdrawal agreement negotiated between the UK and the EU, in full knowledge by that time of what the effects of that agreement will be on the rights of UK nationals and businesses, and EU nationals in the UK; and
- makes provision for the possibility that no withdrawal agreement is concluded within two years of the date of notification (or such time as is extended by agreement with the European Council).
For these vital safeguards to be taken up, MPs and peers have to back the amendment.
We are encouraging People’s Challenge supporters to take action now to make that happen. We suggest that writing to MPs about it, or better still go and see them, and tell them:
- their reasons for supporting the People’s Challenge;
- why Parliament needs to stay in control, especially given the rights at stake; and
- why MPs should consider backing the People’s Challenge amendment.
You can find MP’s details here.
Please also consider supporting the Second People’s Challenge with a further, small donation, so we and the legal team can continue with our action plan at this critical time.
Thank you for your support.