LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May could use a clever tactic to trigger Article 50, even though the government lost its one of the most important constitutional cases in history, in Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court ruled that the government must allow Parliament to vote on the triggering of Article 50.
However, as detailed by BI and other media outlets since November 2016, May’s government was already reportedly working a bill that allows her to trigger Article 50 — and thereby start the official two-year Brexit negotiation process — even in the event that the UK government loses this case. And it has.
In November, May was said to be putting together a short bill that allows her to trigger Article 50 in the event of the government losing an appeal against an earlier London High Court ruling that Parliament must approve the triggering of Article 50.
Cleverly, May is going to make the bill as short as one paragraph, therefore making it extremely difficult for MPs to change “because amendments must be ruled to be within the scope of the original text,” the FT noted at the time.
Therefore, politicians will be very limited to what amendments they can demand.
However, the bill could still fail if enough MPs oppose.
Last week, the Guardian Newspaper and Reuters reported that before the Supreme Court decision was made on Tuesday, ministers had privately conceded they were very likely to lose the case, and had drawn up at least two versions of a bill to be presented to parliament after the ruling.
The initial High Court case challenging the Prime Minister’s right to trigger Article 50 was brought by a number of claimants, including a group known as “The People’s Challenge to Article 50.” The lead claimant was Gina Miller and “The People’s Challenge” was a loose band of people who crowdfunded £175,000 to challenge the Brexit process in court.
At the beginning of November, London’s High Court gave a clear and legal way for parliament to block May from triggering Article 50, thereby delaying the start of the two-year negotiation process for a Brexit.
The government appealed the decision and the case was transferred to the Supreme Court in December 2016.