Brexit: MPs 'very likely' to be given parliamentary vote on EU withdrawal deal, government lawyer says

The revelation came amid a High Court challenge to Theresa May's plans to trigger Article 50 and begin Brexit, without parliament's consent

Siobhan Fenton
Social Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 18 October 2016 19:34 BST

It is "very likely" that MPs will be able to vote to ratify the Brexit agreement before the UK leaves the EU, Downing Street has said.

A government lawyer revealed the information in the High Court challenge to Brexit today. No 10 has since confirmed the measure.

Lawyer James Eadie made the comments while defending the Government in the case currently being heard in the Royal Courts of Justice, which contends Theresa May cannot trigger Article 50 without the approval of MPs in parliament.

Following the contesting lawyers’ claims that to do so would be an abuse of executive power as it would side step parliament which has sovereignty in such matters, Mr Eadie said parliament would be able to approve Brexit plans in some way. He told the court: “It is ultimately dependent upon the agreement of the parties to the treaty, whether they want it to be subject to ratification processes in the usual way. But as I say, the view within government is that it is very likely that most of this treaty will be subject to ratification process in the usual way.

“Most of them are. It is a pretty rare event for the things to take effect immediately upon accession.”

He added: “Any such changes are a matter for future negotiations, parliamentary negotiations, and implementation by legislation… The government view at the moment is that it is very likely that any such agreement would be subject to ratification.”

The legal challenge against triggering Article 50 is being taken by a number of pro-Remain individuals as well as a crowd-funded initiative known as the People’s Challenge. In three days of legal arguments, which began on Thursday and concluded today, the court was told parliament alone has the authority to trigger Article 50. Lawyers said constitutional law stipulates only parliament has the power to grant or remove rights of British citizens, and as Brexit will result in loss of EU rights it alone has authority to initiate Article 50.

Government lawyers defended Theresa May’s plan to trigger Article 50 at an executive level. They told the court the 2015 Referendum Act setting out plans for the 23 June referendum made no mention of parliamentary approval being required for EU withdrawal.

Judgement in the case is expected to be announced later this month.

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