Theresa May is behaving like Henry VIII over Brexit vote, says Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader slams Prime Minister's 'extraordinary' attempts to use royal powers to force through Brexit

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Theresa May is behaving like Henry VIII over her refusal to commit to giving Parliament a say on Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The Labour leader accused the Prime Minister of trying to replicate “the power of kings” by insisting she can take Britain out of the European Union (EU) without parliamentary approval.

The Tudor monarch is known for his autocratic style and using his regal powers to make sweeping changes, such as separating the Church of England from the Vatican.

Government ministers have argued that Mrs May has the power to take Britain out of Europe unilaterally because of the royal prerogative – the system by which, under Britain’s constitution, the traditional powers of the British monarch are vested in in the prime minister.

Mr Corbyn said such a claim was “extraordinary”. 

Speaking to The Guardian about Brexit and Mrs May’s current stance, the Labour leader said: “It would have to come to Parliament. She cannot hide behind Henry VIII and the divine rights of the power of kings on this one.

“The idea that on something as major as this the prime minister would use the royal prerogative to bypass parliament is extraordinary – I don’t know where she’s coming from."

Mrs May has repeatedly refused to commit to giving MPs a vote on a future Brexit Bill, despite the High Court having ruled that Parliament must be consulted before Britain begins the process of leaving the EU.

The Government is challenging that ruling in the Supreme Court, with a verdict set to be delivered in January.

If the Supreme Court judges uphold the original ruling, ministers could be forced to introduce a parliamentary Brexit Bill, which MPs and lords would be able to amend and vote on.

Mr Corbyn has said Labour will not vote against the Government’s bill, but a number of the party’s MPs are expelled to rebel.

Quizzed by MPs during a select committee hearing earlier this month, the Prime Minister repeatedly refused to guarantee MPs would be given a vote on Brexit. 

Appearing in front of the House of Commons Brexit committee, she would only go so far as to say: “It is my intention to make sure that parliament has ample opportunity to comment on and discuss the aspects of the arrangements that we are putting in place.”