The will of the people must be respected

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester and Parliamentary Under Secretary for Exiting the European Union was in the Chamber yesterday to support the Secretary of State whilst he made a statement to the House following the High Court’s decision last Thursday that Parliament should pass a Bill before the UK invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which triggers up to two years of formal EU withdrawal talks. The previous week the High Court in Belfast had ruled in the Government’s favour in a similar but different case relating to Northern Ireland.

David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union informed the House that the Government would be applying for permission to appeal the High Court decision to the Supreme Court by the end of this week, and that the Government would still be on track to trigger article 50 by the use of prerogative powers by March 2017, and believes the legal timetable will allow for that.

He continued by saying the EU referendum was provided by act of parliament and will of the people must be respected and that the duty of the Government was to do just that. Parliament will have a central role in the negotiations and the Secretary of State will aim to be as transparent as possible. He also reminded the House that the new ‘Brexit Select Committee will add another level of scrutiny for MPs.

The Secretary of State said:

“Implementing the decision to leave the EU means following the right processes. We must leave in the way agreed in law by the UK and other member states, which means following the process set out in article 50 of the treaty on European Union. We have been clear about the timing. There was a good reason why the Government did not take the advice of some in this House on 24 June and trigger article 50 immediately. Instead, the Prime Minister was clear that she would not invoke article 50 before the end of this year. That gives us time to develop a detailed negotiating position, but we have also said that the process should not drag on and that we intend to trigger article 50 by the end of March next year.”

“Legal action was taken to challenge the Government on the proper process for triggering article 50. We have always been of the clear view that this is a matter for the Government, and that it is constitutionally proper and lawful to give effect to the referendum result by the use of prerogative powers. As I have said, the basis on which the referendum was held was that the Government would give effect to the result of that referendum. That was the basis on which people were asked to vote.”

“Our argument in the High Court was that decisions on the making and withdrawal from treaties are clear examples of the use of the royal prerogative, and that Parliament, while having a role in the process, which I will come on to, has not constrained the use of the prerogative to withdraw from the EU. Our position in the case was that the Government were therefore entitled to invoke the procedure set out in article 50. The Court has, however, come to a different view. It held that the Government do not have the prerogative power to give notice under article 50 without legislation authorising them to do so.”

“The Government disagree with the Court’s judgment. The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by an Act of Parliament. Our position remains that the only means of leaving is through the procedure set out in article 50, and that triggering article 50 is properly a matter for the Government using their prerogative powers. As a result, we will appeal the High Court’s judgment at the Supreme Court.”

“There are a number of pillars of our democracy. One of them is the independence of the judiciary, which we have maintained for centuries, and another is the freedom of the press, which we are still maintaining after centuries. The independence of the judiciary must be supported and upheld.”

Commenting on the statement, Robin said:

“I have always made clear I would accept the result of the referendum and it was right to trust the people with the decision. I heard loud and clear the decision of the people of Worcester and I respect it. Immediately after the result I called on all people of goodwill to come together to make the process of leaving the EU a success.”

“Clearly the court decision means that a court has decided that parliament will need to vote before article 50 is exercised to begin the process of taking our country out of the EU. The Government is appealing this decision, as we believe the will of the people is already clear and that it is in the power of the Government to carry out this will.

“I will support exercising Article 50 and I will support the Government in getting the best deal for Britain as we leave the EU. By appealing though the correct legal process, the Government is following the law and we should make sure the independence and freedom of press are defended.”

“One of the great things about Britain is that we are a free country with a long tradition of respecting the rule of law. It is right that no-one is above the law including the government which is why we are going through the proper legal process. It is right that judges should be respected and not attacked personally when they make controversial decisions but it is also right that we have a free press that criticise judges when they want to. As we go through this process we should make sure each of these processes are respected.”

“I look forward to meeting the new Brexit Select Committee today”.

Notes to Editors:

For Robin’s previous releases on the EU referendum: http://www.walker4worcester.com/?s=eu+referendum

To read the Secretary of State’s statement in full: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-11-07/debates/C59A3B55-6FB3-455D-B704-F8B1BF5A5AF5/Article50#contribution-C8123DD5-1DF5-4C19-A295-2A4A2B90A2EC

To read more about the work of the Department for Exiting the EU: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-exiting-the-european-union?utm_source=DExEU&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=DExEU-shorturl