Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May Theresa May will not hold a parliamentary vote on Brexit before opening negotiations to formally trigger Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, The Telegraph has learned.
It had been suggested by Tony Blair, the former Labour Prime Minister, and Owen Smith, the Labour leadership candidate, among others that Remain supporting MPs could use a Parliamentary vote to stop Brexit.
But sources say that because Mrs May believes that “Brexit means Brexit” she will not offer opponents the opportunity to stall Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
A Downing Street source said: “The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that the British public have voted and now she will get on with delivering Brexit.”
Mrs May has consulted Government lawyers who have told the Prime Minister she has the executive power to invoke Article 50 and begin the formal process of exiting the European Union without a vote in Parliament.
Her decision will come as a blow to Remain campaigners, who had been hoping to use Parliament to delay or halt Brexit entirely.
The majority of MPs in the Commons, a total of around 480, campaigned for Britain to stay in the European Union at the last election.
The House of Lords is also overwhelmingly in favour of Britain staying in the EU, meaning that obtaining formal parliamentary approval for Brexit could take years.
Mr Smith last week set out plans to block Article 50 in Parliament. He said: “Under my leadership, Labour won’t give the Tories a blank cheque.
“We will vote in Parliament to block any attempt to invoke Article 50 until Theresa May commits to a second referendum or a general election on whatever the EU exit deal emerges at the end of the process. I hope Jeremy will support me in such a move.”
Mr Blair made a similar suggestion earlier this year as he suggested that Britain should be open to the idea of holding a second referendum.
He said: “If, as we start to see the details emerge of what this new world we are going into looks like, what are the practical effects, then parliament has got a role. The country should carry on being engaged in this debate, it should carry on expressing its view.”
A group of lawyers has mounted a legal challeng e in a bid to force Mrs May to hold a parliamentary vote.
The case, which will be heard in the High Court in October, argues that Article 50 cannot be invoked until the European Communities Act of 1972 is repealed.
However Government lawyers are confident that they will win, paving the way for Article 50 to be triggered at the beginning of next year, which could see Britain leave the European Union in 2019.
Bill Cash, a eurosceptic Conservative MP and leading Brexit campaigner, said: “It sounds emphatic and that’s what we want to hear.
“There were people who are threatening to try and stop Brexit. The bottom line is that here is nothing that could possibly be allowed to stand in its way. Everyone in Europe is expecting it, the decision has been taken by the British people and that’s it. Let’s get on with it.”
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, has said that the Government needs to “get on” with triggering Article 50 amid signs of increasing splits among Conservative MPs.
He said: “I have spoken to them and I am definitely certain that these characters – David Davis, Liam Fox, and Boris Johnson, and the Prime Minister by the way – are very clear that they need to get on with triggering Article 50 as soon as possible early in the new year.
“When they do that, we will be bound on a course that means Britain will leave and I believe they are all very positive about the outcome that will entail. We will be out and we will do incredibly well.”
However Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, has suggested that Mrs May could be “tempted” to hold an early election to increase the Conservative’s majority and capitalise on Labour’s turmoil. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has said that he will respect he result of the EU referndum.
It came as a senior Czech official warned Britain that unless it triggers Article 50 soon “the goodwill that still exists will start to disappear.”
Tomas Prouza, the Czech secretary of state for EU affairs, issued the warning following a meeting of leaders from the Visegrad Four—Poland, Hungary and the Czech and Slovak republics—and Angela Merkel in Warsaw on Friday.
“People are willing now to negotiate in good faith, but part of that good faith is based upon the UK notifying us of its intention to leave reasonably quickly, and if it comes up with a proposal reasonably quickly” he told The Telegraph, following the meeting at which when the UK would trigger Article 50 was discussed.
“If we see no notification by late spring then we will have a very big problem and then the mood and the priority will shift to the 27 trying to come to special arrangements without the UK,” he added.