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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Government under pressure to publish legal advice that could stop Brexit

The Guardian reports that Theresa May is under pressure to publish secret legal advice that is believed to state that parliament could still stop Brexit before the end of March 2019 if MPs judge that a change of mind is in the national interest. They say that attention has turned to whether the process can be stopped because of concern that exit talks with Brussels are heading for disaster.

They add that disquiet has been growing among pro-remain MPs, and within the legal profession and business community, about what is becoming known as the government’s “kamikaze” approach.

Ministers insist that stopping Brexit is not an option, as the British people made their decision in last year’s referendum, and the article 50 process is now underway, however damaging the consequences might turn out to be when negotiations are concluded. And European leaders have started to doubt whether Theresa May has the political authority to move negotiations forward towards a satisfactory deal:

Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, who publishes a book this week on how to stop Brexit, told the Observer: “The claim that article 50 is irreversible was always a myth put about by Brexiters who want to stop the British people from changing their minds. Theresa May’s threat that MPs will have to vote for whatever deal she presents to them next autumn, otherwise the UK will crash out of the EU without a deal, is also patent nonsense. Article 50 was never the one-way conveyor belt to Brexit as claimed by the government. It can be stopped at any point.”

He said that MPs should ask themselves one question when they come to vote in a year’s time: “Does the deal measure up to the promises made by Brexiters to their constituents before the referendum? If not, MPs should reject the deal, urge the government and the EU to stop the clock, and give the country the opportunity to think again.”

Clegg added: “As countless EU leaders have said in private and in public – most recently [French] President Macron – there remains a route back for the UK into a reformed EU. This does not mean simply turning the clock back to the day before the referendum, but forging a new status for the UK in an outer circle of EU membership as the core countries proceed with deeper integration.”

Clegg suggests that former prime minister John Major and current Netherlands prime minister Mark Rutte should co-chair a special UK-EU convention that would have the task of “repositioning Britain in one of the outer rings of the EU’s orbit”.

This is sensible advice from Clegg and should be listened to carefully by Ministers before they drive us over the cliff into disaster.
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