As government faces a fresh legal challenge on Brexit, is it unlikely Article 50 will be triggered before the end of March?

Olly Kendall and Mark Wallace
Judges Procession To Westminster Abbey To Mark The Start Of The Legal Year
Britain's Supreme Court is to issue its ruling shortly (Source: Getty)

Olly Kendall, managing director and founder of Westminster Public Affairs, says Yes.

The odds of Article 50 being triggered by the end of March lengthen by the day.

A new legal challenge to the government argues that Parliament should also have a say over whether to trigger Article 127 – the exit mechanism from the European Economic Area agreement – and that there should be a formal judicial review of the government’s position, a legal action that could end up in, of all places, the European Court of Justice.

Next week, we will find out if the Supreme Court will overturn the decision that Parliament should have a vote on Brexit before Article 50 is triggered. Moreover, the Welsh government has submitted new evidence claiming that a large number of its devolved functions derive from EU law and will be lost upon the UK’s withdrawal from the EU treaties.

Prime Minister Theresa May has dug herself a hole by putting a date on triggering Article 50. The Remainers are finding their voice: expect them to place a few more stumbling blocks in front of the government between now and 31 March 2017.

Mark Wallace, executive editor of ConservativeHome, says No.

The recent battle in the High Court, with the Supreme Court to rule shortly, has got two groups overexcited.

The first is the minority of Remainers who still haven’t accepted the referendum result. The second is some Leavers, who haven’t yet shaken off the expectation that their victory will be stolen. Both groups are mistaken – Article 50 will pass Parliament.

Of course the referendum was advisory. But the advice the people gave was clear. MPs – even hardcore Remainers like Anna Soubry – aren’t so pro-EU that they are willing to risk their seats.

What of the Lords? They don’t have constituents to obey, and more of them enjoy the benefits of fat EU pensions, but they, too, have a well-developed political survival instinct. While some blind ideologues will vote against, most peers will ask if the EU is worth destroying the House of Lords for.

Most will conclude that it would be unwise to pit their unelected chamber against the outcome of the biggest democratic vote that Britain has ever seen.

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