Theresa May has made clear she is not ready to back down on new immigration controls in any parliamentary Brexit battle.
Speaking as she arrived in India on a three-day trade visit, the Prime Minister insisted the Government has a “strong” case to persuade Supreme Court judges to overturn last week’s High Court decision that MPs and peers should vote on the launch of EU withdrawal talks.
And she gave short shrift to suggestions that Parliament might tie her hands by requiring her to make continued single market membership her priority during withdrawal talks under Article 50 of the European treaties.
MPs and peers considering amendments to this effect should remember that “the people spoke on June 23” and it is the Government’s job to deliver on their wishes she said.
Mrs May brushed aside speculation that she might seek an early election in the hope of securing a Commons majority which would allow her to negotiate on her own terms.
She told reporters: “I’ve consistently said that I believe the general election should be in 2020.”
EU leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel have repeatedly said that the single market – which MPs including former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg see as vital to minimise the damage of Brexit to the UK economy – will be dependent on freedom of movement for EU nationals.
But Mrs May said that MPs and peers should recognise that voters gave a very clear message in the EU referendum on June 23 that they wanted tighter controls on immigration.
I think the people spoke on June 23, I think an important aspect that underpinned people’s approach to that vote was a concern that they had about control of movement of people from the EU into the UK, said the Prime Minister.
I think it’s important for the UK Government to deliver on that and I think that MPs and peers should recognise the fact that it was a parliamentary decision to give the choice as to whether or not we stayed in the EU to the people through a referendum vote and we saw the result of that.
It’s now our job to get on and deliver it.
Mrs May took a bullish stance on the prospects of overturning the High Court ruling when the Government’s appeal comes to the Supreme Court in early December.
In terms of the legal situation, we’ve had two court cases in the UK, she said.
They’ve come out with different decisions – the Northern Irish court found in favour of the Government, the High Court found against Government.
We think we have strong legal arguments and we will be taking those arguments to the Supreme Court.