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Article 50

Volume 615: debated on Thursday 20 October 2016

The Prime Minister has made it clear that she will trigger article 50 by the end of March 2017. It is in everyone’s interests that we take time to establish a UK approach and clear objectives for negotiations. Equally the Prime Minister has been clear that there will be no unnecessary delay. We have also been clear that we will trigger when the time is right for Britain and we will certainly, where possible, give people and businesses in Britain and other European countries the time to consider for themselves what the outcome will amount to. That is what we are doing.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this Government are absolutely right to deliver the Brexit that 17.2 million people voted for, and to do it in a responsible fashion that allows it to deliver the great deal for Britain that we know it is going to deliver?

That is exactly right: it is what the Prime Minister said and it is what we intend—and I have to say that I doubt it is what the Opposition intend.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the last 24 hours the House of Lords has reported that there should be a vote in this House

“to debate and approve the negotiating guidelines, at least in outline”?

Does he accept that Parliament as a whole, including the House of Lords, has to not only respect, but also accept, the verdict of the British people and furthermore that it is for this elected House to determine its own procedures, standing orders and votes?

My hon. Friend is right: we should respect the will of the British people. I have not had a chance to look at the Lords report yet, but I will comment on it when I do.

As my right hon. Friend will know, a very important court case has been heard in the High Court in the last week. What plans has he drawn up, including legislation, in the event that he loses that case and that therefore it will be this place, including the House of Lords, that will trigger article 50, not the Government using the royal prerogative?

Let me say gently to my hon. Friend that Ministers do not comment on court cases in progress.