Brexit: Article 50 will be triggered before next general election, Tory chairman says

Patrick McLoughlin says referendum result is binding but confesses 'technically it isn’t'

Peter Yeung
Sunday 24 July 2016 16:21
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McLoughlin says Article 50 will be triggered before next general election

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the piece of legislation allowing a country to exit the European Union, will be triggered before the General Election, the Conservative Party chairman has said.

Patrick McLoughlin, newly-installed in Theresa May’s government, said it would be “very difficult” for an early General Election to be called, but that the process of Brexit definitely would be started before then.

When asked on The Andrew Marr Show if Article 50 would be enacted Mr McLoughlin, the Tory MP for West Derbyshire said: “Oh yes”.

What is Article 50?

“We’ve got to see when exactly we leave the European Union and once the Article 50 is triggered there is a maximum of two years.

“It may be sooner than that, it will be part of the negotiations the Prime Minister is currently holding.”

Although the EU referendum result is not legally enforceable, Mr McLoughlin said: “I’m quite clear that the referendum result is binding on Parliament. Technically it isn’t, but I’m clear that it is binding on Parliament.”

“The Prime Minister has made it very clear that Brexit means Brexit.”

When pushed by the host, he continued: “Brexit means that we’re coming out of the European Union. We want to see our own borders under our own control and we obviously want to see the best we can for British investment.”

Mr McLoughlin ruled out the prospect of an early General Election to profit from rifts among the Labour Party, noting: “With fixed term elections in place, it’s very difficult to hold an early General Election.”

Hesitant to set out a hard and fast limit on EU immigration, he added: “I think there are several reasons why people voted to leave the European Union, so you can’t say one reason, but it does mean we will have to take control of our borders.

“Tourism is a very important industry.”

Earlier this month, a Government lawyer told the High Court in London that Britain will not invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty this year.

Lawyer Jason Coppel QC referred to statements made by Prime Minister Theresa May who has said the legislation should not be triggered this year.

But the British Government could decide against pursuing Brexit even after Article 50 has been invoked, according to senior legal figure Barrister Charles Streeten.

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