Angus Shaw gives a run down of how Brexit is currently playing out
The House of Commons has voted to trigger Article 50 by a large majority of 498 to 114, beginning the process of bringing the United Kingdom out of the European Union.
This comes after Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet were instructed by the Supreme Court to present a Brexit bill for parliament to vote on. Eight judges ruled in favour of Gina Miller’s appeal, which ensured that the Government’s initial intentions of withdrawing from the EU without first consulting the House of Commons and the House of Lords, were not fulfilled. This vote to trigger Article 50 follows intense debate from the first two readings of the bill in Parliament this month.
Following the vote, the Government has now released a White Paper detailing its aims and strategies for the UK’s exit, including a statement from Secretary of State, David Davis, pinpointing a time frame for triggering Article 50; “The people of the United Kingdom (UK) have voted to leave the EU and this Government will respect their wishes. We will trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union by the end of March 2017 to begin the process of exit. We will negotiate the right deal for the entire UK and in the national interest.”
“The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the EU and this Government will respect their wishes” – David Davis
The White Paper centres around “twelve principles”, Davis continues, “which will guide the Government in fulfilling the democratic will of the people of the UK.” Set out by Theresa May on the 17th of January, these twelve principles include; ‘Taking control of our own laws’, ‘Strengthening the Union’, ‘Ensuring free trade with European markets’, ‘Controlling Immigration’ and ‘Securing new trade agreements with other countries’, among others.
The White Paper opens with perhaps its most important change to UK law by introducing the ‘Great Repeal Bill’, designed to “remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book and convert the ‘acquis’ – the body of existing EU law – into domestic law.” This transfer of EU law into domestic law means that on day one of the UK’s independence, every EU law will remain in place. These laws will then be subject to amendments, adjustments and could even be removed by Parliament, allowing “businesses to continue trading in the knowledge that the rules will not change significantly overnight and provides fairness to individuals whose rights and obligations will not be subject to sudden change”, as the Government’s White Paper describes.
“This transfer of EU law into domestic law means that on day one of the UK’s independence, every EU law will remain in place.”
Although the House of Commons and Government are for the most part in unison on triggering Article 50, the House of Lords must still cast their crucial vote in support or rejection of Brexit. With the power to delay or derail the process, the Lords could cause significant political debate on the power of the unelected individuals and their impact on democratic decisions such as this.
With Government representation in the House of Lords also at a low, it will surely serve as the real battleground for Prime Minister May’s Brexit bill.