May tries to calm European fears over Brexit trigger

Theresa May is attempting to convince European leaders that Britain will go ahead and trigger Article 50, following the High Court’s ruling that parliament must first approve the decision.

Article 50 Lisbon Treaty Brexit Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a round of telephone diplomacy on Friday in a bid to convince European leaders that the UK would adhere to its plan to trigger Article 50, which starts the process for Britain's exit from the EU, before April next year.The whole process was thrown into confusion 24 hours earlier when the High Court in London ruled that the government must first get parliament's approval before serving its Brexit notice on the rest of the EU.

Government appeal in December 

In December, the Supreme Court will hear the government's appeal against the ruling and, in Friday's phone calls to Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany and other European leaders, Mrs May expressed her "confidence" that the government would win.The rest of the EU is anxious for the UK to trigger Article 50 as soon as possible and Mrs May does not want to be forced to get approval of both Houses of Parliament – a process that could take many months – as it could result in the government having to reveal its Brexit negotiating position. 

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A government spokesman said Mrs May explained to the European leaders that "while the government is disappointed by the judgment yesterday, we remain of the firm belief that we have strong legal arguments ahead of the case which will be moving to the Supreme Court next month". He added, "The prime minister also confirmed that the planned timetable for notification of Article 50 remains the same." But, as speculation grew that Mrs May might be forced to call an early general election next year to resolve the issue, Stephen Phillips, a Conservative MP who won his Lincolnshire seat with a majority of almost 25,000 last year, has been openly critical of Mrs May for "ignoring the views" of MPs over Brexit and for refusing to disclose to parliament the government's stance in negotiations with the EU.

The most important issue facing the nation

In a letter to House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, Mr Phillips said, "I and many others did not exercise our vote in the referendum so as to restore the sovereignty of this parliament only to see what we regarded as the tyranny of the European Union replaced by that of a government that apparently wishes to ignore the views of the House on the most important issue facing the nation."

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The resignation, which follows that of fellow Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith last month over the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport, reduces the Conservatives' majority in the House of Commons to just eight and adds mounting uncertainty over how Mrs May can organise the government's stance on Brexit. 

Desperate for certainty over Brexit

Another Cabinet minister, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, said yesterday that, following the government's High Court defeat, businesses were desperate to glean some certainty over Brexit. He told the BBC after a breakfast meeting with business leaders in Cardiff that that there was an "obligation" on politicians in all UK parliaments to give firms certainty about the UK's departure from the EU. "What investors and employers want is the direction of travel and that's what we're focused on," he said. "It's in our interests that Europe grows and it's in Europe's interest that the UK and Welsh economies grow." David Davies, MP for Monmouth and chairman of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, warned that politicians opposed to Brexit would now use the High Court to try to prevent the UK leaving the EU. "There'll be members of parliament looking to find excuses and flaws in the legislation that the government bring forward and the negotiation package, if you like, to try and vote against it," he told BBC Radio Wales. "This is all about trying to undo the result of the referendum - let's be in no doubt about that.For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory   now to our Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre"This could easily lead to an early general election if that's what it takes to get this sorted out."

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