Article 50 architect says ministers are trying to deceive MPs on Brexit

PUBLISHED: 15:18 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:36 31 October 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Photograph: PA Wire.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Photograph: PA Wire.

The architect of Article 50, Lord Kerr, has said that ministers are trying to deceive MPs into believing the only choice is between a ‘no deal’ Brexit and Theresa May’s Chequers plan.

He made the claims after House of Commons clerk Sir David Natzler told the Brexit committee that there was “no statutory obligation” for the government to pay any attention to a series of resolutions in a “meaningful” vote on Brexit.

Sir David said MPs may vote in favour of a particular type of future trading relationship but that would not force the government to renegotiate with Brussels and would not overturn Brexit.

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He said: “There’s no House procedure that can overcome statute.

“You’ve passed the European Union Withdrawal Act and you can’t overturn that by a resolution of either House or even both Houses.”

But asked if an amendment could be tabled to legislation to overturn the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, Sir David said he did not “want to speculate”.

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Article 50 architect and former head of the UK’s diplomatic service Lord Kerr said ignoring Parliament would “not end well”.

He said: “It would be a massive case of executive overreach for the government to claim they were not bound by a decision of Parliament on a matter as serious as this.

“I am certain, if that were ever to happen, that Parliament would act to make it clear that ministers have a duty of accountability to the elected House and that any attempt to resist the will of the Commons would quickly collapse.

“Ministers are trying to deceive MPs into believing that they will face a binary choice between accepting whatever deal the government brings back or crashing out of the EU with no deal.

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He added: “For the government to try to ignore the will of our sovereign Parliament would be to roll back 400 years of history. It wouldn’t end well.”

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