Tag Archives: article 50

Vince: Exit from Brexit very much on the cards

Lord Kerr, who wrote Article 50, has said many times that it is revocable. We could get out of Brexit if we wanted. People are resigned to it because they don’t know that we could get out of it. So spread the news far and wide whenever you see it.

He’s reportedly making a speech tomorrow in which he emphasises that point. Vince Cable had this to say:

The author of article 50 revealing that the process can be revoked is a significant development.

There is no longer any refuge for brexiteers who argue that this whole process can’t be revoked.

The possibility of an

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Newby: May’s Brexit plan will make us poorer, less generous and diminished as a nation

Lib Dem Lords Leader Dick Newby threw some serious shade at the Government yesterday in his response to the Prime Minister’s statement on Article 50 being triggered. He went through it and pointed out the many inconsistencies and false promises it contained. It’s a cracker.

Today is for me and my colleagues an extremely sad day. It marks the point at which the UK seeks to distance itself from its nearest neighbours at a time when, in every area of public policy, logic suggests that we should be working more closely together rather than less.

But sadness is a passive emotion, and it is not the only thing that we feel. We feel a sense of anger that the Government are pursuing a brutal Brexit, which will rip us out of the single market and many other European networks from which we benefit so much. We believe that the country will be poorer, less secure and less influential as a result, and we feel that at every ​point, whether it be the calling of the referendum itself or the choices made on how to put its result into effect, the principal motivation in the minds of Ministers has been not what is best for the long-term interests of the country but what is best for the short-term interests of the Conservative Party.

We do not believe that the Government have the faintest clue about how they are going to achieve the goals that they set out in their White Paper last month or the Prime Minister’s Statement today, and we have no confidence in their willingness to give Parliament a proper say either as the negotiations proceed or at their conclusion. We therefore believe that, at the end of the process, only the people should have the final say on whether any deal negotiated by the Government —or no deal—is preferable to ongoing EU membership. We will strain every sinew to ensure that outcome.

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So this is how Jeremy Corbyn will be holding May to account on Brexit….

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, any half decent opposition leader would have lined up his most ferocious MPs to go to town on the PM over Brexit. We’ll gloss over the fact that any decent Leader of the Opposition wouldn’t have let the Article 50 Bill pass unamended in the first place.

But we don’t have a decent Leader of the Opposition. We have Jeremy Corbyn. You just get the feeling that if PMQs had been extended by a couple of hours, he wouldn’t have got round to asking a question on Brexit. No doubt he’d have asked about the weather and who the PM thought had done in Ken Barlow on Corrie.  He should have taken May apart on Brexit. He should have had half a dozen MPs lined up with killer questions.  But Labour MPs asked about anything but – until Tulip Siddiq came along. The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, a passionate and effective opponent of Brexit, asked about the £350 million a week for the NHS.

Later, in his reply to the Prime Minister’s statement, rather than deliver a feisty riposte, he sounded like he was discussing the relative merits of different kinds of broad bean. There was no passion, no fire. “If she meets our tests, we’ll back her,” he said. Labour’s tests are meaningless anyway as they have failed them themselves. They had every opportunity to ensure that the Government’s strategy was changed to include membership of the single market, to stand up for the rights of EU nationals, and to give Parliament a meaningful vote on the deal. 

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Article 50 invoked: Lib Dem reaction: The fight goes on

So, the deed is done, but the Liberal Democrats aren’t giving up the fight.

Here’s how senior Liberal Democrats have reacted:

Tim Farron – The people must have their say

The world needs liberal democratic values – this is something Churchill, Thatcher and others rightly decided that Britain could deliver from our place at the heart of Europe.

I believe the Prime Minister is twisting the will of the people, leaping into the abyss without any idea of where our country will end up.   In her statement the Prime Minister admitted we would lose influence as a result.

Theresa May has chosen the hardest and most divisive form of Brexit, choosing to take us out of the Single Market before she has even tried to negotiate.

Membership of the Single Market was not on the ballot paper last June, yet without a mandate she has chosen to rip Britain, our businesses and our people out of the world’s biggest market.

It is still possible for the British people to stop a hard Brexit and keep us in the Single Market. And if they want, it is still possible for the British people to choose to remain in the European Union. Democracy didn’t end on 23rd of June – and it hasn’t ended today either. The people can have their say over what comes next.

It is a tragedy that Labour are helping the Conservatives in doing this damage to our country.  They no longer deserve to be called the Official Opposition. Britain deserves better than this.

Catherine Bearder MEP: The clock is ticking – but it can be stopped

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LibLink: Tim Farron: British voters must have the final say on the Brexit deal

In today’s Guardian, Tim Farron sets out the case for the people to decide in a referendum whether they wish to accept the terms of Brexit or remain in the EU after all.

He sets out what Theresa May is up to:

Theresa May’s tactic is clear: to accuse anyone who dares question her headlong, blindfold charge towards hard Brexit of being democracy deniers. This despite it looking increasingly likely that the result of her reckless, divisive Brexit will be to leave the single market and not reduce immigration – the very opposite of what Brexiteers pitched to the people.

Then he sets out the case for a referendum on the deal:

It was May’s choice to plumb for the hardest and most divisive Brexit, taking us out of the single market before she has even tried to negotiate. That’s why we believe the people should have the final say. Someone will: it will either be politicians or the people. If the people decide they don’t like the deal on offer, they should have the option to remain in the European Union.

This is simply too big to trust to politicians. May wants to hijack David Cameron’s mandate from the general election to deliver hard Brexit. Meanwhile, the recent tough talk from Keir Starmer won’t hide Labour’s feeble deeds: voting for Brexit, failing to stick up for the right of EU nationals to remain, and even now only really threatening to abstain rather than vote against the final deal. I have heard of loyal opposition, but this is craven.

And he points out that the outcome is likely to be far from what people voted for – and that’s going to be the fault of blinkered ministers:

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Blue Wednesday

So, the day has arrived. I’m wearing blue, as Roger Roberts suggested, for 3 reasons. As the Government  carries out the worst assault on our children’s future I have seen in my lifetime, I’m  doing this for three reasons. Out of sadness at what today means for our future, out of pride in the EU’s values of peace and collaboration – and out of defiance. I will not stand by why the Government destroys our country. I will take every opportunity for peaceful resistance as this incompetent and reckless government puts us all in harm’s way.

I will not stand by while the Government refuses to give us a say on the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations. What sort of democracy is that? People voted to take back control, not hand all power to ideological brexiteers who do all they can to avoid checks and scrutiny. Who would you rather had the final say on your future? You, or Theresa and her trio of Brexiteers?

That Theresa May has the nerve to suggest that the country should come together behind her shows how out of touch and comfortable with power her Government is. It’s that old saying about power corrupting. With a Labour Party missing in action, waving its demands as the Brexit horse bolts down the road, May thinks she can do what she likes. She has made no attempt to build any bridges whatever with the almost half of us who voted Remain.

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Article 50 is not the only or the best way to leave

Now that the invocation of Article 50 is imminent, I thought I would reflect on how we managed, as a country, to gain such momentum for such a bad way of leaving the EU.

Firstly, it should be understood that before Article 50 was agreed, it was not impossible to leave the EU. Greenland did so, by agreement, and without that agreement being subject to an arbitrary one-sided deadline. The point of agreeing Article 50 was not to make it possible to leave, but to make it harder. Article 50, like Trident, is not meant to be used; that is not …

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LibLink: Kishwer Falkner on ‘How I will vote on Article 50’

Baroness Kishwer Falkner has been explaining on her blog how she plans to vote on Brexit and Article 50. She writes:

In life, with voluntary relationships there is a clear line between the length of a relationship and the one’s attachment to it.  I have felt those 32 years acutely in the last few months as I have reflected on my own position with respect to the Liberal Democrats position on Brexit and the need for a second referendum.  But in arriving at my decision to vote against the Lib Dem position I feel that it is the fact that I am a Lib Dem – a pro-European to my core – that makes this the right thing to do.

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In full: Tim Farron’s speech in the Article 50 debate

Tim Farron spoke in the Commons debate on Article 50 this afternoon. Here is his speech in full:

She is not in her place now, but I want to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Dr Johnson) for her excellent maiden speech.

Liberal Democrats have always been proud internationalists. It was the Liberals who backed Winston Churchill’s European vision in the 1950s, even when his own party did not do so. Since our foundation, we have been champions of Britain’s role in the European Union and fought for co-operation and openness with our neighbours and with our allies. We have always believed that the challenges that Britain faces in the 21st century—climate change, terrorism and economic instability—are best tackled working together as a member of the European Union.

Being proud Europeans is part of our identity as a party, and it is part of my personal identity too. Personally, I was utterly gutted by the result. Some on the centre left are squeamish about patriotism; I am not. I am very proud of my identity as a northerner, as an Englishman, as a Brit, and as a European—all those things are consistent. My identity did not change on 24 June, and neither did my values, my beliefs, or what I believe is right for this country and for future generations. I respect the outcome of the referendum. The vote was clear—close, but clear—and I accept it.

But voting for departure is not the same as voting for a destination. Yes, a narrow majority voted to leave the EU, but the leave campaign had no plans, no instructions, no prospectus and no vision. No one in this Government, no one in this House and no one in this country has any idea of what the deal the Prime Minister will negotiate with Europe will be—it is completely unknown. How, then, can anyone pretend that this undiscussed, unwritten, un-negotiated deal in any way has the backing of the British people? The deal must be put to the British people for them to have their say. That is the only way to hold the Government to account for the monumental decisions they will have to take over the next two years.

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ICYMI: Nick Clegg’s brilliant speech on Article 50 Bill

I am so proud of Nick Clegg who made one of the speeches of his life, and one of the best I have ever heard in Parliament, in the Article 50 Bill yesterday. You would hope that such a momentous decision would bring out the best in our MPs.  It certainly did for Nick whose oratory was mature, passionate, honest and searingly critical of a Government acting in its party’s, not the national interest, Watch it here.

The full text, including the interventions, is below:

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Lamb and Mulholland to abstain on Article 50 vote – what does this mean for the party?

In news which should surprise nobody, both Norman Lamb and Greg Mulholland have said today that they will be abstaining rather than voting against the Article 50 Bill.

The three-line whip tells MPs to vote against if there is no referendum on the final deal with an option to remain in the EU.

Greg Mulholland explained his decision to the Yorkshire Post:

“The outcome of these negotiations is hugely important to the British economy… So I support there being a referendum on the terms of exit so the British people are the ones who decide what our relationship with these nations will be,” he said. ” as I have made clear, including to constituents, I do think that these negotiations should be allowed to commence and that I would not block them doing so, so I will not be voting against Article 50. “What is crucial is that all MPs scrutinise the progress of the negotiations and continue to push the Government to ensure British businesses have access to the biggest market in the world. “I will support sensible amendments to the Bill to ensure the Government does keep Parliament and the British people informed, that our NHS is protected and that British businesses do continue to be allowed to trade with European nations without damaging and costly tariffs and barriers that would harm them and the British economy. I also believe that we should seek to agree that British people living on the continent should be allowed to stay and that EU workers who moved here because we were part of the EU should also be permitted to stay and contribute to our economy and public services.”

Norman wrote about his decision in an article on his website

I fully believe that Remain voters and politicians across all parties must play a key role in influencing negotiations, to ensure that we avoid the damage to the economy and the country’s international status that a Hard Brexit would bring. My personal preference is for the Government to fight for full access to, and preferably membership of, the Single Market, and I will continue, alongside my Liberal Democrat colleagues, to seek to achieve this. I continue to give my full support to Open Britain’s campaign “to keep Britain tolerant, inclusive and open to Europe and the world”.

The Liberal Democrats are united in our opposition to a damaging hard Brexit, united on the Single Market, and united in our determination to make sure the British people have the final say over the final Brexit deal. I fully support our leader Tim Farron and my colleagues inside and outside parliament in campaigning for these outcomes.

However, I have already committed, in public, not to block the triggering of Article 50. It’s no secret that I have an honest disagreement with the party’s position to vote against the triggering of Article 50 unless the Government guarantees a referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal. Given the vote of the British people on June 23rd, I am not prepared to vote to block the triggering of Article 50 when the bill is brought before Parliament.

Irrespective of my views of the outcome of the referendum, there is a democratic principle at stake, and I feel very strongly about this. When we voted to hold the referendum, we did not set out any preconditions for triggering Article 50, in the event of a vote to leave the EU. I do not see how we can introduce them now. I have therefore made the difficult decision to abstain on this vote.

No Liberal Democrat MP will vote to trigger Article 50

So what does this mean for the party?

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Banging on about Europe

I didn’t join the Liberal Democrats in order (to use David Cameron’s phrase) ‘to bang on about Europe.’ My main pre-occupation was building communities and quality public services.

I have met colleagues in the party though for whom this was the big “thing” that brought them into politics and for whom any tinge of Euro-scepticism smelt of heresy; any suggestion that the European project was going off the rails was unspeakable back-sliding.

This sensitivity always struck me as odd but as something to be aware of rather than to react to.

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Ros Scott on the Article 50 Bill and how Brexit has affected the Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat Peer Ros Scott has been talking to FNF Europe about the Article 50 judgement this week, the progress of the Bill through Parliament and the effect Brexit has had on the Liberal Democrats.

First of all, she spoke about the significance of the Supreme Court judgement:

is mixed news for the Government; Parliament may well now be more confident in asserting its rights as the negotiating process unfolds and issues such as access to the Single Market, the acquired rights of citizens and membership of EU bodies will be hotly contested. If the impacts of triggering Article 50

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Parliament is going to have to do better than today

What a depressing spectacle we witnessed in the House of Commons today.

A government which had just had a kicking from the Supreme Court for trying to do something unconstitutional should have been subdued and its representatives should have had their tails between their legs. But why should it, when its main opposition party lay prostrate in front of it.

Rather than look sheepish, David Davis was smug.

It should be so different. We should be building up to a dramatic parliamentary occasion. Gavin Williamson, the Government Chief Whip, shouldn’t be able to sleep at night because he’s worried about whether votes will be won. As it is, he could spend the next couple of weeks lying on the sofa with a beer watching re-runs of The Thick of It.

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Another Article 50 court case (and Article 127): why we should take notice

Just as the Supreme Court Article 50 hearings finished, another two potential cases appeared which could affect the government’s Brexit negotiating strategy, both of which address significant legal uncertainties remaining.

The first is a case developed by Jolyon Maugham QC that was crowdfunded in 48 hours last weekend. It seeks to resolve two legal uncertainties, i) whether Article 50 is indeed irrevocable (something that was not an issue in the recent Supreme Court case), and ii) whether the UK would automatically withdraw from the single market or European Economic Area (EEA) when Article 50 is triggered. The separate EEA Agreement was ratified by the UK in the EEA Act 1993. The case is being filed in the Irish courts, asking them to refer it directly to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), a process of at least 9 months.

Article 50 does not indicate whether or not its application is irrevocable, so it may be revocable following customary international law. Not surprisingly, David Davis sounded unsure when asked by the Brexit Select Committee! Only the ECJ can decide as the final arbiter of the EU treaties. If Article 50 is found to be revocable then we have a unilateral legal basis for implementing any second referendum decision to remain in the EU after the deal is agreed.

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Parliament needs to stand up to the Government on Article 50

Are there any Parliamentarians left in Parliament?  That was the question that kept occurring to me as I watched the submissions to the Supreme Court in the Article 50 case this week.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy an interesting court case as much as the next person. The Supreme Court will do an excellent job determining the law, and it has every right to do so. The problem is that it should not have been necessary for the court to consider the matter in the first place.

Parliament alone has the right to determine what the division of power between itself and the executive should be. As it has not acted to overrule the government’s claim that triggering Article 50 is an executive power, Parliament has implicitly accepted that the power is a prerogative. 

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Lib Dems to vote against Article 50 “stitch up”

Unsurprisingly, the Liberal Democrats have confirmed that the party’s MPs will vote against any motion which backs the unconditional invocation of Article 50. Tonight’s vote will be a test for the SNP, too. Will they back the Liberal Democrat amendment calling for:

 the Prime Minister commit to a referendum on the final deal following the negotiations and prior to the UK departing the EU.

Tim Farron said:

We cannot support a parliamentary stitch up that would deny the people a vote on the final deal.

An amended motion would fail to include any meaningful commitment from the Conservative Brexit government to produce the equivalent of a White or Green Paper setting out its position on such fundamental questions as to whether it wants Britain to remain in the Single Market.

I call on the Labour Party to remember it calls itself the Official Opposition. It should not cave in to Conservative attempts to deny the public a final say on the most important question facing the country in a generation. It is appalling that a so-called opposition could allow itself to be muzzled by the Government on an issue that will face this country for years to come.

It is now clear that the Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit government, striving to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

At the moment, the SNP seems to be revelling in the constitutional mayhem. Willie Rennie called on them to back a referendum on the deal:

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Tim Farron: ‘Unless the government agrees to a referendum on the final Brexit deal, the party will vote against Article 50’

Tim farron photo by liberal democrats dave radcliffe

This morning, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has laid out a red line on Article 50 and said unless the government agrees to a referendum on the final Brexit deal, the party will vote against Article 50 in the House of Commons.

Tim Farron said:

Millions of people are deeply worried by the government’s handling of Brexit.

So my position is very clear: the Liberal Democrats believe that the people are sovereign.

They must decide whether or not they agree with the deal that the government reaches with Brussels, which means

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Urgent questions to our MPs regarding Article 50

 

There was rather worrying news from the regional conferences this weekend in which several parliamentarians, including Chief Whip Tom Brake, implied that the party would not vote against an Act of Parliament triggering Article 50 and/or repealing the European Communities Act 1972.

I and many other members are increasingly concerned about this turn of events. Less than two months ago, we passed a policy at Conference that committed the party to remain inside the European Union. Our reputation for many years has been that of a Europhile party, and nearly all of our votes are aware of this fact. So too are the thousands of new members who joined after the referendum. To not vote against would not only be betraying party members, it would be betraying our voters too. After a bruising period in coalition in which we lost the trust of many of our members, I fear that retreating from our pro-European principles poses an existential threat to the party.

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Article 50 ruling follows a monumental misjudgment by Theresa May

It is difficult not to see today’s High Court ruling as anything other than a disaster for Theresa May. The first big decision she made as PM turns out to have been a monumental misjudgment. She has been ruled out of order and, unless an appeal is successful, she’ll have to go cap in hand to Parliament.

Mike Smithson of Political Betting put it very well:

Tim Farron commented:

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It beggars belief that Brexit has escaped basic parliamentary democracy

I thought that in the UK, we had a parliamentary democracy. We elect representatives to tackle, understand, debate and ultimately enact legislation in order to build a cohesive, fair and prosperous society.

OK, our politicians have seen fit on a few occasions, to gauge the mood of the country and seek ‘advice’ from the electorate on a singular matter of importance, via a referendum. Surely, under these circumstances, that received advice should then be subject to the normal process of parliamentary understanding , debate and action as parliament sees fit. In this way the factors of cohesion, fairness and prosperity are woven into our democratic process.

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How to leave the EU without invoking Article 50

 

It is generally assumed that the first step for the UK to leave the EU is to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. In his article on 10th August, Paul Walter described how “Invoking Article 50 could be a disaster for the UK”. The referendum represented a democratic decision of UK voters that needs to be respected, but invoking Article 50 might not be the only way to do this.

Article 52 of the Lisbon Treaty states “The territorial scope of the Treaties is specified in Article 355 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.” Article 355 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that the treaties “apply to the European territories for whose external relations a Member State is responsible”. However, it contains exceptions and special provisions for numerous territories of UK, Denmark, Finland, France and the Netherlands.

The European Communities Act of 1972 is “An Act to make provision in connection with the enlargement of the European Communities to include the United Kingdom, together with (for certain purposes) the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar”.  Therefore, Gibraltar is distinct from the United Kingdom, in relation to its membership of the EU.

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Brexit: The invocation of Article 50 can be reversed

In May, the House of Lords select committee on the European Union published a detailed document on the process of withdrawing from the EU.

Among other things, the committee concluded that:

…we have no reason to believe that the requirement for legislative consent for its repeal would not apply to all the devolved nations.

-That is, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The committee also concluded that, once Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty has been invoked, it can be reversed before the end of the two year negotiating period:

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