EU Exit: Article 50

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:27 pm on 10th December 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen Barclay Stephen Barclay The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 7:27 pm, 10th December 2018

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on the judgment issued by the European Court of Justice this morning on the Wightman case.

Today, the European Court of Justice has delivered its judgment on the question of the revocability of an article 50 notice. The Court has found that the UK has the right, in accordance with its constitutional requirements, unilaterally to revoke the notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU. We note the judgment from the European Court, the role of which is to provide rulings on the interpretation of EU law. The judgment clarifies the law, but it does not in any way change our policy. That the Government know this course is possible, just as many undesirable actions are possible, does not change the fact that such an approach is hypothetical and the Government have no intention of doing so.

The Government’s firm and long-held policy is that we will not revoke the article 50 notice. That position has not changed. To do so, or to hold a second referendum, would be to undermine the result of the 2016 referendum and the professed will of this House to give effect to that result. The House voted to hold the referendum and promised to deliver it. Five hundred and forty-four Members of this House voted to give the British public their say, with just 53 opposed. Almost three quarters of the electorate then took part in the 2016 referendum, resulting in 17.4 million votes to leave the European Union. That is the highest number of votes cast for anything in UK electoral history, making this referendum the biggest democratic exercise in our history. The House then voted again to empower the Prime Minister to notify under article 50, and voted yet again to repeal the European Communities Act 1972.

The Government remain focused on their task, on their mandate and on delivering a deal that honours the 2016 referendum result. We will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019. I commend this statement to the House.