Exclusive: UK's lower house would back triggering EU divorce talks - Reuters research

Wed Dec 7, 2016 3:26pm EST
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By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) - While the British government tries to prevent parliament from having to pass a law to trigger the country's exit from the European Union, Reuters research indicates the lower house would in fact support it, based on lawmakers' recent statements.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she aims to launch the two-year negotiating period for the country's departure from the 28-nation bloc by the end of March and that the referendum vote in June to leave the EU provides sufficient instruction.

The High Court has said parliamentary approval is required to invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon treaty, governing the EU exit process. The government is challenging that decision in the Supreme Court, which began hearing the case on Monday.

If the government loses, the House of Commons lower chamber could in theory block Brexit, because a majority of lawmakers supported staying in the EU at the referendum.

But recent public comments made by remain-supporting lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party and main opposition Labour Party indicate that May would have more than the number of votes the government would need to pass a Brexit bill.

Their positions, set out on social media, on their own websites or in media interviews, reinforce the likelihood of Brexit, which has wide implications for the EU and beyond.

They could change by the time the Supreme Court rules in January, however, and any Article 50 bill could also face trouble in parliament's upper chamber, the House of Lords, although if it blocked the bill the government could retable it.


Part of a pro-Brexit protester's placard is held up outside the Supreme Court on the third day of the challenge against a court ruling that Theresa May's government requires parliamentary approval to start the process of leaving the European Union, in Parliament Square, central London, Britain December 7, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls