The difference you and the People’s Challenge are making to the debate in Parliament.

This week the House of Lords acted decisively and courageously to amend the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill  to require proposals to protect the future of EU nationals resident in the UK when notification is given.

On Tuesday, 7th March, they will have the opportunity to do so again during the Bill’s Report Stage debate. That will be when the ‘parliamentary approval’ amendment (see page 2) we are backing will be debated.

All peers were sent our amendment briefing electronically, and over 100 with a special interest in EU and constitutional issues were also sent hard copies. There has been a high level of interest in the briefing, including from those who used it and the Three Knights Opinion (commissioned by the People’s Challenge) in their speeches, and many have kindly contacted us to say how useful the information is.

If further evidence is needed of the practical contribution the People’s Challenge makes to the debate, you only have to read what Baroness Wheatcroft says in her piece for the Guardian:

The “Three Knights” legal opinion, commissioned by the People’s Challenge campaigners, allied to Gina Miller’s Supreme Court case on Article 50, is clear that the government does not have the legal authority to leave the EU without a new Act of Parliament.

So when the Lords vote next week, they will have not only sense but the law on their side. That should make them brave enough to send a very strong message and, if necessary, to repeat it.

The Bill is now sure to go back to the Commons.  We are very hopeful that when it does, it will contain the parliamentary approval clause which will make Parliament’s future role explicit.  There will then be a final battle in the Commons to make sure the amendment stays in place.

In the meantime, we plan on sending out a further briefing to those peers who have already supported amending the Bill.

If you personally want to encourage peers to consider voting for the parliamentary approval amendment, then do take action now by e-mailing them, telling them why embedding Parliament’s right to make final decisions on withdrawal and any future agreement with the EU is so important,  and encouraging them to read our amendment briefing if they have not  already done so. You can find peers’ e-mail addresses here.

Thank you for your backing which makes it possible for us to support peers with an interest in fighting for parliamentary sovereignty. We will post a further update once the outcome of the Report Stage debate is known.

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Peers highlight the importance of Parliament’s ‘final say on individual rights’ in debates on the Bill

The House of Lords Second Reading debates on the European Union(Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2017 were completed on the 21st of February. The Committee Stage debates began on the 27th (the second day is today).This will be the peers’ first opportunity to vote on any of the proposed amendments to the Bill. Votes on amendments are also very likely at Report stage on 7 March.

There is no prospect of the Bill as a whole being defeated, but there are encouraging signs that peers will fight hard for Parliament’s right to decide both on the acceptability of any withdrawal agreement the Government negotiates with the remaining 27 EU states and on what to do if the negotiations stall or fail altogether. That right reflects Parliament’s responsibility for future decisions that impact on individual rights, repeatedly stressed by Supreme Court in the Miller judgment (paragraphs 5, 82-83, 87, 101, 111 and 124).

The Three Knights Opinion which we commissioned and sent to peers helped ensure this issue featured prominently in the Second Reading debates. Shortly afterwards, The Sun ran an exclusive story suggesting ministers had been so unsettled by what Lord Hope and others had said about the Opinion that they were contemplating consenting to an amendment to embed parliamentary sovereignty in the Bill and ‘secret talks’ had begun about its form.

We will need to wait and see what comes of this.The Bill is unlikely to be amended in a way that confronts all of the constitutional problems identified in the Three Knights Opinion, but it certainly can be improved by amendments. 

Having reviewed those that have been submitted for debate and the support they are likely to attract, we have decided to urge peers to support the ‘parliamentary approval amendment’proposed by Baroness Hayter, Lord Hannay, Lord Pannick and Lord Oatesand have sent all active peers a detailed briefing about this. 

In our briefing, we point out the irony of ministers telling Parliament it will be offered no more than a ‘take it or leave it’vote bearing in mind what was decided by the Supreme Court in Miller and accepted in the White Paper: “[t]he sovereignty of Parliament is a fundamental principle of the UK constitution”.Parliament cannot fulfill its own constitutional role by writing a‘blank cheque’ authorising withdrawal from the EU two years from now, either on whatever unknown terms may  be agreed, or without any agreement at all. To do so would be a serious abdication of parliamentary sovereignty, with implications for the rights of every UK national and business.

The parliamentary approval amendment would improve things considerably. It would make it clear that the UK cannot agree to leave the EU on agreed terms unless Parliament consents to the terms of any withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU and, if there is one, an agreement relating to the future trading relationship. It would also prevent the Government from unilaterally abandoning negotiations without Parliament’s authority. The amendment would create meaningful choices for Parliament on the face of the Bill,give Parliament genuine control by confirming its approval a precondition to any new agreement, clarify much of what Parliament must decide and so provide greater legal certainty.

Many peers have shown they appreciate just how important it is not to surrender parliamentary sovereignty. For example, Lord Heseltine has said he will back amendments that protect it. In the Second Reading debate Lord Kerr, former UK ambassador to the EU, former head of the UK diplomatic service and author of Article 50, told fellow peers:

“…we need to consolidate in the Bill the Government’s quasi-commitment to give Parliament its say before the die is cast on any emerging settlement.The European Parliament’s similar right is enshrined in the language of Article 50. This Parliament deserves no less. It will not do just to give Parliament Hobson’s choice—to say, “It’s this deal or no deal”. Timing is crucial. Parliament must have the chance to consider at least three other options. 

Under option one,Westminster could follow the frequent practice of the United States Congress, say that it does not like the emerging deal or some particular aspect of it, and ask the Executive to go back and try harder…

As regards the second option, if timing proves tight Westminster could invoke Article 50(3) and invite the Government to seek an extension of the two-year period. The European Union is a union of democracies. If this Parliament asked for an extension, and our Government conveyed our request, in my judgment it would certainly be given.

Under the third option, Parliament could invite the Government or the country to think again. An Article 50 notification is not irrevocable. The President of the European Council and a gallery of EU legal luminaries have confirmed—of course, the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, is among their number—that a member state may, in accordance with its constitutional requirements, withdraw its notification within the two-year period or its extension. This morning, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, asked about the Government’s motive in conniving in the High Court at the fiction of irreversibility. I cannot answer her but the fact is that Article 50, which first saw the light of day under the heading“voluntary withdrawal” is not an expulsion procedure. We remain full members of the European Union throughout the negotiating period—the two years or its extension. If, having looked into the abyss, we were to change our minds about withdrawal, we certainly could and no one in Brussels could stop us. If it were not so, I would have to oppose the Bill. As it is, all we need do is improve it and make sure that the rendezvous with history, which comes when we know what the Government want for the future of our country and its relationship with our continent, is clear.”

Lord Lisvane commented:

In the referendum campaign we heard a lot about regaining our parliamentary sovereignty; perhaps it is a little ironic that we have had in the first instance to rely upon the assistance of the courts. However, it would be even more ironic if the legislative process of withdrawal involved a major transfer of power to the Executive….”

Lord Strasburger commented:

Should we not be asking ourselves: why are the Government in such a hurry? Why are they so intransigent and intolerant of meaningful scrutiny of the deal they hope to bring back from the negotiations? The explanation must be that deep down they realise that they cannot  possibly secure a deal anywhere near as good as the one we have right now. What everthey get will not stand up to close comparison with membership of the single market and the customs union…

Our patriotic duty is to scrutinise and amend the Bill. We must protect Parliament’s sovereignty and give it a chance to accept or reject the deal, with the status quo as one of the alternatives, rather than automatically going over the WTO cliff. We must protect the rights of EU nationals already in the UK and we must give the people a say in the final decision. That way, if the best deal the Government can get is not good enough, Parliament and the people will have a final chance to stop the self-destruct button being pressed.”

and Lord Pannick also made a powerful speech observing:

I think that the Bill requires amendment, in particular to ensure parliamentary sovereignty as the process of withdrawal occurs over the next two years. Noble Lords know that the Prime Minister has promised that any agreement with the European Union on the terms of our withdrawal and our future relationship with the EU will require the agreement of both Houses of Parliament. She has said that the agreements will so require before any agreement is put to the European Parliament for its consent. That promise should be written into the Bill. A political promise, made by the Prime Minister in good faith, is no substitute for a clause—an obligation—in an Act of Parliament.The reason for that is that political circumstances can change; Prime Ministers can change over the next two years. On a matter of this importance, it is vital to ensure that there is a clear and binding obligation on the Government to return to Parliament at a defined time to seek the agreement of both Houses of Parliament for the terms of any agreement. As the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, said, this Parliament must have at least the same powers that the European Parliament has to disagree with the terms of any draft agreement…

I am also concerned about what happens if there is no draft agreement between the UK and the EU on the terms of our withdrawal. In my opinion, parliamentary sovereignty must also apply in those circumstances. Surely it must be for Parliament to decide whether we prefer no deal or the deal offered by the EU. It is for those reasons that I have added my name to an amendment that would require parliamentary approval for an agreement or for no agreement. The Supreme Court recognised the constitutional requirement for Parliamentary sovereignty. I hope noble Lords will do likewise.” 

In total, 184 peers took part, making this the largest second reading debate on record.

As the debates progress, we will continue to do all we practically can to support peers who are willing to fight to preserve Parliament’s final say so that it remains responsible for the individual rights at stake.

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Three Knights Opinion sent to peers

On Monday the House of Lords will begin to debate the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2017 which is designed to surrender the Parliamentary sovereignty that was upheld by the Supreme Court just weeks ago.

Today we are sending peers the Three Knights Opinion. This is a wholly new and unique legal opinion the People’s Challenge has been able to commission thanks to the invaluable support we’ve had from our CrowdJustice supporters.

We believe the Opinion will make an important contribution to the debate over Parliament’s role at this critical time. It is intended to be the most authoritative view available short of an EU Court of Justice judgment on the relationship between the UK’s constitution and the withdrawal stage of the process set out in Article 50.

The Opinion concludes that, once passed,the 2017 Bill will allow the Prime Minister to notify the UK’s intention to leave the EU and to start the Article 50 process, but that actual withdrawal from the EU will need to be authorised by Parliament in a future Act, once the outcome of the negotiations, and the impact on individual and business rights, is known.

The Bill is being oversold by the Government: it does not authorise actual withdrawal in its current form.

The Opinion also draws attention to the real risk of no agreement being reached within the Article 50 negotiating period, and the constitutional requirement in those circumstances for Ministers to seek legislative consent from Parliament for the UK leaving the EU in the absence of a withdrawal agreement.

The Opinion adds that the UK’s “constitutional arrangements” mean that the Article 50 notification is effectively conditional on Parliament subsequently authorising the UK’s exit from the EU and that, under EU law, there are “very strong arguments”  that, if Parliament decided to reject the available terms of withdrawal two years from now, the notification could be unilaterally revoked by the UK (paras 2(vi) and 48). “Article 50 cannot have the effect of ejecting a Member State from the European Union contrary to its own constitutional requirements”, including Parliament’s final decision, say the Opinion’s authors (para 2(vii)).

This is especially important because,during the Second Reading debate, the House of Commons was wrongly told Miller had decided these questions. Sir Oliver Letwin MP said “the Supreme Court has ruled that, in its view, this is an irrevocable act” (HC Deb, 31 Jan 2017,vol. 620, col. 870) and John Redwood MP added “It clearly did rule on the matter. It found against the Government because it deemed article 50 to be irrevocable. It would not have found against the Government if it had thought it revocable” (HC Deb, 7 Feb 2017, vol. 621, col. 281).

These statements are simply wrong. The Supreme Court did not decide that an Article 50 notice could not be withdrawn and refrained from expressing its own view, in particular because the Government’s position was that it would make no difference to the outcome if that common ground was mistaken: see paragraphs 26 and 169 of its judgment.

The Opinion recommends amendment of the Bill by Parliament to provide clarity and legal certainty over the constitutional position. Amendments have been tabled that would help. But the opinion concludes that a further Act of Parliament approving Brexit will be needed even if that does not happen.

We’re calling this the Three Knights Opinion because of who its authors are – Sir David Edward KCMG PC QC, Sir Francis Jacobs KCMG PC QC and Sir Jeremy Lever KCMG QC (retired). Also involved are the two QCs that acted for the People’s Challenge Group in Miller, Helen Mountfield and Gerry Facenna.

Sir David Edward QC practised at the Bar in Scotland prior to his appointment as the United Kingdom’s Judge at the European Court of First Instance from 1989-1992 and subsequently Judge of the European Court of Justice from 1992 until 2004. In 2004 he returned to become a part-time judge of the Court of Session in Scotland. He is a Privy Councillor, Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh and an Honorary Fellow of University College, Oxford.

Sir Francis Jacobs QC served as the United Kingdom’s Advocate General at the European Court of Justice from 1988 to 2006, having previously combined an academic career as Professor of European Law at the University of London with practice at the Bar. He is the President of the Centre of European Law at King’s College London and a visiting professor at the College of Europe. He was appointed a Privy Councillor in December 2005 and continues to practice at the Bar.

Sir Jeremy Lever QC is one of the most senior and respected figures in EU and competition law. During his more than fifty years at the Bar he acted in many of the leading cases in the fields of European law, competition law, and regulatory public law, including by or on behalf of the UK Government, the European Commission and the European Parliament. He is a Distinguished Fellow and Senior Dean of All Souls College, Oxford and in 2003 was knighted for services to European Law.

Here are some further highlights.

The first part of the Opinion is grounded in the constitutional principles at issue in the Miller case. The Opinion develops the Supreme Court’s principal conclusion that primary legislation is required to authorise the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It states that the current Notification Bill does not authorise withdrawal as:

it is a constitutional requirement of the United Kingdom that Parliament must expressly authorise the terms of any withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union, or authorise withdrawal from the European Union in the absence of such agreement, in an Act of Parliament. That is because it is only Parliament that can give legal effect to the removal or conferral of individual rights that necessarily follow from that decision” (Para 23).

The Opinion adds that “[m]eaningful Parliamentary decision-making cannot be achieved by Parliament authorising exit from the European Union, two years in advance, on as yet unknown terms” (para2(ii)).

Although the Government has said that the terms of any deal will be the subject of a Parliamentary vote “before it comes into force”, this falls short of the UK’s constitutional requirements for withdrawal from the EU, which includes authorisation by Act of Parliament (para4(ii)).

The Opinion explains that:

Parliamentary sovereignty and the principle of legality require Parliament expressly to authorise withdrawal from the European Union on the terms of withdrawal agreed with the European Union, or to authorise withdrawal if no acceptable terms can be agreed. Given the fundamental changes in the law andlegal rights that will result, such authorisation must take the form of primary legislation. Parliamentary resolutions, without legislation, cannot change domestic law, nor amend or abrogate existing rights…” (para2(iii)).

The Opinion then discusses why the Bill is legally inadequate to authorise withdrawal:

[t]he Bill does not say anything about rights and obligations currently enjoyed under EU law, for example which of them will be preserved, or which will be removed. It does not remove any rights, nor does it make any changes to domestic law, nor authorise the Government to do so. The Bill only authorises the Prime Minister to notify the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. It cannot serve as the legislative basis for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union without it being read as an exceptionally wide enabling law, handing to the Executive power to decide which legal rights may be given away or lost through negotiations with the European Union, or by leaving the European Union without an agreement. No such intention is expressed on the face of the Bill and we doubt that the Courts would interpret the Bill in that way” (para21).

The second part of the Opinion, based on the authors’ unrivalled expertise in EU law, addresses the question of what happens if Parliament decides that the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations is unacceptable. The Opinion makes it clear that Parliament will not be powerless to act even though, on its face, Article 50 suggests that EU membership will automatically end after two years unless the period of negotiations is extended by agreement.

The Opinion establishes that withdrawing the Article 50 notice remains an option throughout the process. It notes that the Supreme Court did not decide the question of whether a notification given under Article 50 may be qualified or can be withdrawn once it is given and concludes that there are “very strong arguments” in EU law“that a notification under Article 50(2) can be given in qualified or conditional terms and can be unilaterally withdrawn” (paras2(vi) and 48).

The Opinion says, therefore, that:

the United Kingdom is entitled to say to the European Union: ‘We have decided to withdraw and here is our notice under Article 50. However, since withdrawal will involve a fundamental change to our laws and will inevitably amend or abrogate individual rights, the terms of withdrawal, in so far as they have such a consequence, can be given effect under our constitution only by an Act of Parliament, and our decision to withdraw is therefore subject to approval of the terms of withdrawal by our Parliament’”(para 39).

The Opinion observes that “the fundamentally integrationist rationale of the [EU] Treaties and their emphasis on democracy” and the fact that “Member States changing their mind is a common experience in the history of European Union integration” (para 52).

It concludes that, if Parliament decides not to accept the terms of any deal agreed with the European Union and not to authorise Brexit in the absence of any deal:

the notification would have to be treated as having lapsed because the constitutional requirements necessary to give effect to the notified intention have not been met”…“it would be incompatible with the European Union Treaties for a Member State to be forced out of the Union against its will, or contrary to its own constitutional requirements” (paras 61 and 55)

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Taking action on the People’s Challenge amendment

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.

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There are White Papers and White Papers, but now at least we have a White Paper…

The Prime Minister, by announcing that there will be a White Paper on the article 50, seems to have vindicated the decision to set up the Second People’s Challenge.

Whether that White Paper turns out to be sufficient for the purpose is up to our MPs.

The change in the PMs stance on the vote in Parliament has not been brought about by the Supreme Court’s decision alone or by the shift in public opinion or even the hostility in Parliament but by the combination of the above that has turned the call for meaningful Parliamentary control into an irresistible force.

As Harriet Beecher Stowe said “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

In order to achieve this we need more shares, more tweets, re-tweets and more people backing our campaign. More importantly we need you to not give up, give in or settle for less than we are entitled to!

 

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Victory in the Supreme Court – and what’s next for Parliament and the People’s Challenge

As has already been widely reported, today an 8-3 majority of the Supreme Court upheld the Divisional Court decision, ruling. They stated:

We cannot accept that a major change to UK constitutional arrangements can be achieved by a ministers alone; it must be effected in the only way that the UK constitution recognises, namely by Parliamentary legislation.”

The Court’s full judgment is here. Here is the Court’s written summary and here is footage Lord Neuberger’s short hand-down speech.

Legal history has undoubtedly been made. Ordinary people’s voices have been heard on fundamental rights issues, thanks to the People’s Challenge. The majority of the Court said they had grappled with “some of the most important issues of law which judges have to decide”.

Their judgment:

  • affirms that “because the EU Treaties apply as part of UK law, our domestic law will change as a result of the United Kingdom ceasing to be party to them, and rights enjoyed by UK residents granted through EU law will be affected”;
  • puts it beyond doubt that “some rights… will be lost on the United Kingdom withdrawing from the EU Treaties” and that these are, thanks to Acts of Parliament, fundamental domestic rights enjoyed by all UK nationals;
  • explains “complete withdrawal” will therefore “constitute as significant a constitutional change as that which occurred when EU law was first incorporated in domestic law by the 1972 Act”;
  • notes that the historical cases show it “is a fundamental principle of the UK constitution that, unless primary legislation permits it, the Royal prerogative does not enable ministers to change statute law or common law”;
  • firmly states “[i]t would be inconsistent with long-standing and fundamental principle for such a far-reaching change to the UK constitutional arrangements to be brought about by ministerial decision or ministerial action alone. All the more so when the source in question was brought into existence by Parliament”; and
  • concludes tantalisingly, in its main section, with the indication that “what form such [authorising] legislation should take is entirely a matter for Parliament… the fact that Parliament may decide to content itself with a very brief statute is nothing to the point.”

Of course, Parliament now may also decide on legislation that is not the ‘one line Bill’ its lead barrister James Eadie QC promised would be the outcome were the appeal to fail.

It will not need to seek the devolved administrations’ approval of the proposed legislation, however, because, said the Court:

Within the United Kingdom, relations with the European Union, like other matters of foreign affairs, are reserved or excepted in the cases of Scotland and Northern Ireland, and are not devolved in the case of Wales”

and the Sewell Convention operated only as a political constraint. The Northern Ireland Act’s self determination provisions did not impact on the Brexit process directly.

In form, then, the judgment is a careful analysis of argument and precedent. But in substance it is no less than a restoration of Parliament to its rightful place as the ultimate decision-maker in our democracy.

What now? The Government will imminently publish an authorisation Bill. MPs will need to decide whether they are prepared to pass it unamended, or to be as courageous as our judges have been and take all necessary steps to ensure they remain in control of the Article 50 process including, critically, the final decision on whether the terms of withdrawal are acceptable.

We are determined to help them, hence the Second People’s Challenge.

There will be one final Update to this first campaign with a breakdown of the work we have done so far. Thank you again for everything you have done to make the People’s Challenge not only possible, but effective.

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Supreme Court’s ‘decisive restoration of parliamentary sovereignty’ welcomed by People’s Challenge

Crowdfunded campaign group ‘the People’s Challenge’ welcomed today’s Supreme Court decision that ‘regal’ prerogative powers could not be used by the Government to exit the EU and that only an Act of Parliament would be sufficient. The judgment means that the process can be subject to full parliamentary control and oversight. The People’s Challenge interested parties are ex pats Grahame and Rob Pigney, Paul Cartwright, a Gibraltarian national who runs Brex-IN, Christopher Formaggia who lives in Wales, Tahmid Chowdhury, a London student and Fergal McFerran, president of the NUS-USI based in Belfast. 5000 people supported their involvement in the Miller and others litigation via the CrowdJustice platform.

Grahame Pigney said today:

Thousands of UK Citizens have fought this challenge through the UK courts to establish not only the Sovereignty of our UK Parliament but also the fact that the Government cannot strip away fundamental citizenship rights.

The 1688 Bill of Rights has been defended against an autocratic and secretive Government, Parliament now has the opportunity to use the parliamentary processes to examine the Government’s plans and exercise Parliament’s rightful control over the direction that the UK takes”

The People’s Challenge group solicitor, John Halford, said:

In form, this judgment is a careful analysis of argument and precedent, but in substance it is no less than a restoration of Parliament to its rightful place as the ultimate decision-maker in our democracy.

MPs must now be as courageous as our judges have been and take all necessary steps to ensure they remain in control of the Article 50 process including, critically, the final decision on whether the terms of withdrawal are acceptable and in the interest of all UK nationals whether here, in British territories like Gibraltar , or resident abroad. The People’s Challenge has asked its legal team to urgently advise on how to make that happen.”

Rob Pigney said:

This is a great day for UK democracy, we have put our elected representatives back in control of our future, now it falls to our MPs to take that duty and honour seriously.”

Paul Cartwright said:

All the UK nations who voted in the referendum have been diversely represented in The People’s Challenge thanks to the overwhelming economic and moral support from thousands of individual sponsors to our cause. Justice has prevailed over political ego on two separate judgements. We have protected our constitutional law that Parliament is sovereign. Together with Bindmans we will continue to press for MPs to have the necessary time and tools in order to properly represent, and account to, all UK national in this process.”

Tahmid Chowdhury said:

“In rejecting the Government’s appeal, the Supreme Court has reiterated the fact that Parliamentary Sovereignty remains sacrosanct. This historic decision was only possible due to the efforts of thousands of individuals willing to act in the best interests of their country, and illustrates that it is with our elected representatives that the power to amend our rights as citizens rests.

It is now essential that Parliamentarians do their duty – to act in the best interests of the whole United Kingdom. Simply waving through a bill to pass the powers thousands have fought to guarantee on to the Government would be not only a shirking of responsibility, but frankly undemocratic.”

Chris Formaggia said:

“There is now a vital opportunity for MPs who supported Remain up to the referendum to consider the very good reasons why they did so and question whether the opinion poll does anything to change that reasoning.”

Fergal McFerran said:

“Today’s judgment is testament to the hard work of many thousands of people across the country who have been genuinely concerned by Theresa May’s approach to dealing with the outcome of the EU referendum. I am proud to have played just a small part in holding her and her Government to account in ensuring we respect the role of Parliamentary democracy and in securing the proper process we were being denied.”

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What’s the difference between the Tories and Labour? The Colour.

In a recent move Jeremy Corbyn has imposed a three line whip on Labour MP’s in preparation for the upcoming Article 50 Notification Bill.

This is sadly only the latest in a series of moves where Jeremy Corbyn seems to be shifting his position for the sake of political convenience and possibly his own survival as head of Labour.

It seems that the only difference between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn is that one is wrapped in blue and the other in red, they both seem to be violating their political beliefs faster than they can lower them, they appear to be equally spineless in their handling of the problems facing the country and they both fail to exercise their office to the benefit of the country or it’s people.

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Article 50 ruling to be handed down on 24 January

The UK’s Supreme Court is to give its judgment in the ‘Brexit’ legal challenge at 9.30 AM on Tuesday 24 January.

The 11-Justice Court will decide whether to reject or allow the Government’s appeal against the ruling that it cannot use the Royal Prerogative to take the UK out of the EU by triggering Article 50 without Parliamentary approval in the form of an authorising Act. The Court is also likely to rule on arguments that the devolution arrangements with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales may impose additional safeguards, including the need for legislative consent motions.

The Divisional Court ruling that Parliamentary authorisation is required was won in the High Court by campaigners led by Gina Miller, Deir Dos Santos, the People’s Challenge and others. Bindmans’ Partner, John Halford, represents the People’s Challenge group which is supported by over 5000 CrowdJustice contributors.

He said today:

“Parliamentarians need to clear their diaries and make themselves ready. If the appeal is dismissed, as we hope, they will be able to insist on proper proposals, debate, accountability and meaningful control of every step the Government takes from now on in relation to its Brexit plans. British people should expect no less of their representatives.”

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Same old, same old and btw she still hasn’t told Parliament

Following a particularly long and arduous 45 minutes, I hope I’m not the only one to have emerged from Theresa May’s Brexit speech more confused and incredulous than I went in.

The whole thing was a re-hash of the previous hash sprinkled parsimoniously with new, often contradictory and almost exclusively vacuous statements.

She talked about compromise and ingenuity in coming negotiations and yet left no room for manoeuvre in her stance on, for example, immigration and thus on the single market.

In fact, immigration control was the only “advantage” that was in any sense quantifiable. All that stuff about Global Britain and fancy trade deals and relationships with all and sundry (what stops the UK doing this now?) was nothing more than hot air laced with “British Empire Part 2” vocabulary.

She talked about withdrawing the UK from EU control and yet keeping, enforcing and building upon the rights and rules that the EU has brought us (all of which were voted onto our Statute Book by the UK’s sovereign Parliament, by the way).

She also pledged to put the exit deal to the vote in the Commons and the Lords. That sounds good, doesn’t it? But when questioned about whether, if the vote was “No”, the UK would still be in the EU, there wasn’t a “Yes/No” answer. Amber Rudd has been asked the same question and given the same non-answer.

She maintained that the negotiations with the EU will give us an exit deal that will be just great for the UK. That the EU will bend over backwards in order to accommodate us even if it weakens their own position. Of course that is all mere speculation. Are these “promises” as insubstantial as the one for a vote on the exit deal appears to be?

To flesh this out this sad skeleton as much as possible, she kept using words like: tolerant, open, united and co-operation.

This in a country where foreign nationals have recently been beaten to death in the street, a country wanting (apparently) to lower immigration from the rest of the EU by anything up to 75% (and for what reason exactly? EU nationals resident in the UK are net contributors to the UK economy: fact.). Guess it’s OK for people to wait longer for hospital care, if farmers can’t get their seasonal products harvested to feed us, if it’s harder for elderly people to be cared for…

This in a country so appallingly divided and polarised by the Brexit debate that it appears on course to tear itself apart socially, and commit economic suicide by pulling out of the biggest economic, social and political co-operation in the world. Mrs May talked about an EU disinclination to play nice with the UK being “self-harm”, has she not noticed what’s going on in her own country?

In summary, Theresa May’s speech today offered no new real information aside from confirmation of the suspicion that she will not be looking to stay in the single market, simply “same old, same old”. She offered no explanation for how she will achieve what she has promised, and casually dismissed the lack of a fall-back position or back-up plan.

She continues to sell snake oil to people who are desperate for help with their problems and takes advantage of their desperation and anger to avoid answering any sensible questions about downsides or cost, or even whether snake oil will make their problems go away.

 

 

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