Denis MacShane, the former minister of Europe, author of Brexit: How Britain Left Europe, and senior adviser at Avisa Partners in Brussels, says Yes.
The Prime Minister’s speech is just the first shot in what will be a very long two years. Right now it’s about politics. But over the next 24 months it will be about economics.
There is little chance that any solutions can be found to a trade deal outside the EU Single Market and Customs Union without at least five to 10 years of tough negotiations after political Brexit takes place in April 2019.
So will foreign investment keep flowing into the UK in the knowledge we will soon be amputated from the world’s biggest market on our doorstep? Can the City prosper without euro trades and can SMEs be profitable without qualified, hard-working Europeans?
The Tories are loyal to Theresa May but not wedded to Unilateral Economic Disarmament. If by 2019 Brexit looks like bad news for national wealth and income, MPs will be entitled to vote down the withdrawal treaty and send May and David Davis back to Brussels to get a better deal.
Chris Rumfitt, founder and chief executive of Field Consulting, says No.
As every politics student knows, sovereignty in our constitution does not sit with the Prime Minister, and certainly not with the people. No, Parliament is sovereign, and Theresa May’s confirmation that the final Brexit deal will be subject to a Parliamentary vote is nothing more than a recognition of that.
Parliament took us into the Common Market, and Parliament approved the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty and the rest of it. So it was simply untenable to argue that we could leave without Parliament’s say-so. You should only fight battles you can win, and May would have wasted valuable political capital fighting this one.
What it does strengthen is the case for an early election. Getting Brexit through Parliament with no manifesto mandate and a majority of 10 could be challenging. But after an election in which she would crush Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, and which gave her that mandate for Brexit, neither the Commons nor the Lords would be willing or able to stand in her way.