The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution has recently published a Report on the invoking of Article 50. The Committee, made up of Members of the House of Lords belonging to various political parties and none, has examined the process by which the United Kingdom will withdraw from the European Union.

Warning that constitutional change of the magnitude of Brexit must be approached carefully and scrutinised properly, the Committee states in its Report that the decision to trigger Article 50 must not be made without consulting the UK Parliament, and must not be made by the UK Government acting alone. Whilst the Committee respects the outcome of the EU Referendum vote, the Committee notes that the legislation which enabled the Referendum to take place did not set out how the result would be implemented, which has caused uncertainty and confusion in the aftermath. It further states that it would be “constitutionally inappropriate, not to mention setting a disturbing precedent” for the UK Government to act on an advisory Referendum without explicit Parliamentary approval “particularly one with such significant long term consequences”.

The Invoking of Article 50

We mentioned in a previous blog post (What is Article 50?) that the approach of the UK Government to the triggering of Article 50 appears, at present, to be that this action falls within the scope of its prerogative powers. There has been no announcement from the Government to suggest that this view has changed.

The Committee’s Report is merely one view amongst many others, but its contents are worth considering, particularly the commentary on the mechanics of the triggering of Article 50 in a parliamentary context.

The full text of the Report may be found here.