Government must give Parliament meaningful vote on final Brexit deal or risk legal challenge, say QCs

The Government could be face another legal challenge if they do not give Parliament a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal they negotiate, expert analysis from three QCs – the “Three Knights” – shows.

The advice, which has been sent in a private briefing to Peers ahead of Committee Stage of the Article 50 legislation in the House of Lords, says that “actual withdrawal from the EU will need to be authorised by Parliament in a future Act, once the outcome of the negotiations, and the impact on individual and business rights, is known.”

The advice states that this would need to be in the form of a full Act of Parliament. They also say that an Act of Parliament would be required if no deal with the EU were negotiated, and the Government sought to take Britain out anyway – as the Prime Minister said when she declared in her Lancaster House speech that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”

It was authored by three eminent QCs: Sir David Edward, Sir Francis Jacobs and Sir Jeremy Lever. Also involved are the two QCs that acted for the People's Challenge Group, Helen Mountfield and Gerry Facenna. The People’s Challenge brought the case to the High Court and Supreme Court that ruled that Article 50 could only be triggered through an Act of Parliament.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:

“Those who favour hard Brexit used to talk a good game about Parliamentary sovereignty but they seek to side-line Parliament at every stage of the Brexit process. 

“The Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the courts to introduce the Article 50 legislation, but this expert legal advice suggests they may run the risk of it happening again.

“It is completely unacceptable for the Government to only offer Parliament a ‘bad deal or no deal’ ultimatum at the end of the negotiations. It’s the parliamentary equivalent of being asked whether you would prefer to lose an arm or a leg.

“The Government should accept the amendments that give Parliament a meaningful vote and a real choice at the end of this process. That’s the democratic and patriotic thing to do. We don’t want any more time, effort or taxpayers’ money spent on court cases.”


Notes to editors:

The full text of the Bindmans advice is here: