British PM 'to trigger Brexit without vote by lawmakers'

EDINBURGH • British Prime Minister Theresa May will not hold a parliamentary vote on Brexit before formally triggering Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday, without specifying sources.

Mrs May will not offer opponents the chance to stall the withdrawal and has consulted lawyers who say she has the power to invoke the exit without a parliamentary vote, the conservative newspaper said.

A majority of the 650 lawmakers had declared themselves "Remainers".

Opponents maintain that since the EU referendum result is not legally binding, elected lawmakers should review the vote before the process is started.

The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU on June 23, but Mrs May has said she will not invoke Article 50, the formal two-year process for divorce from the bloc, before the end of the year to allow time to prepare the exit strategy.

No one at the prime minister's office was available to comment.

Senior members of the opposition Labour party have suggested that the issue could be subject to a vote by lawmakers or even a second public vote, and a law firm has initiated a legal challenge.

Two months ago, 52 per cent of Britons opted to leave the EU, but since then the process and what it could mean has been shrouded in uncertainty because the exit is unprecedented.

Mr Gus O'Donnell, a former head of the civil service, said he hoped that by the time Britain leaves the EU it could be part of a "more loosely aligned" EU bloc because the process will take "years and years and years".

"While we can leave relatively quickly, what leaving means is a huge administrative and legislative change because of all of (the) rules and laws and directives that have been implemented over this last 40 years. My instinct is we will almost certainly stick with them and say, 'OK we'll keep them for now, so you can leave with everything in place'," he told The Times newspaper.

The economic impact of Brexit is also unclear because, beyond a more than 10 per cent fall in the value of sterling against other currencies, the signals so far are mixed.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 28, 2016, with the headline 'British PM 'to trigger Brexit without vote by lawmakers''. Print Edition | Subscribe