The Commons has voted on Article 50 and the government has published a Brexit White Paper. Nicholas Wright explains what both things meanby Nicholas Wright / February 3, 2017 / Leave a comment
The beginning of 2017 has seen a sudden flurry of activity on Brexit. The prime minister’s long-awaited Lancaster House speech in January offered some detail to develop her much-repeated mantra that “Brexit means Brexit.” This week, meanwhile, Westminster has finally taken centre-stage.
This is the direct consequence of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, which made clear that the government could not rely on so-called royal prerogative powers to trigger Article 50: it has been forced to seek formal parliamentary approval to begin the Brexit process. Consequently, we have seen two key events: the Commons vote on the European Union Bill, and the publication the following day of the government’s White Paper on Brexit. Both events remind us of the important role Westminster will play in the Brexit process, particularly in terms of scrutiny.
Wednesday’s vote was on the second reading of the government’s Bill. The Bill, when finally passed, will not trigger Article 50; it will grant the government the authority to do so. Thus, the need for legislation is unlikely to affect May’s timetable of informing our EU partners by the end of March of our intention to withdraw (at which point the formal Brexit process begins). What has happened this week is about domestic political process: t…