Brexit: We need a vote in Parliament to start Article 50, says former Attorney-General Dominic Grieve

MP says Government can't make such a big decision without parliamentary approval

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 17 July 2016 18:10 BST
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Dominic Grieve said Theresa May should not be rushed into triggering Article 50
Dominic Grieve said Theresa May should not be rushed into triggering Article 50 (BBC)

The UK’s former attorney general has said the Government would need Parliament’s approval to trigger Article 50.

Dominic Grieve said it is “extremely farfetched” to believe the Government could “take a decision of such massive importance to the United Kingdom” without getting the approval of Parliament.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, the former barrister said: “We undoubtedly need a vote in Parliament. It is a matter of convention.

“The idea that a government could take a decision of such massive importance to the United Kingdom without parliamentary approval seems to me to be extremely farfetched.

“It’s not about law it is about convention and reality.”

Mr Grieve said he would vote for triggering Article 50 – which starts the negotiation process for a country to leave the EU – despite campaigning for Remain because the result of the referendum was “quite clear”.

But he added that “the decision has to be right at the time you make it” and said circumstances could change.

Echoing earlier comments on the legality of a second referendum he said: “The justification for a second referendum is if the circumstances at the time justify the need to put it to the electorate.”

He said a referendum was “exactly the same as a general election” in that the result reflected the will of the people at that particular point in time.

The Beaconsfield MP said Prime Minister Theresa May should only trigger Article 50 when there was “some clarity” as to what the “scope of the negotiations that will follow”.

He said: “Clearly if our European partners don’t want us to negotiate at all informally prior to triggering Article 50 that might present some difficulties.

“What it is that the United Kingdom is seeking in terms of a future relationship with the EU is very important. I think it is impossible to give a problem timescale.

“The Prime Minister needs to be given maximum flexibility about this to prevent boxing herself in to what is going to be the most difficult political transformation this country has gone through in modern times.”

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