Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

A Determined Prime Minister Can Take Us Out


Here is the fantastic Sir John Redwood MP's article first published on Brexit Central ( outlining how the right man can take us out of the EU by 31st October. 

For too long we have witnessed this Parliament trying to delay or dilute Brexit. The very institution the British people has trusted to govern us has shown a pathetic reluctance to take on the task. Instead of leading us proudly and sensibly out of the EU, Parliament has served the EU's interests by making up problem after problem where there is no issue, and exaggerating every complexity. It has been a sorry case of Parliament against the people.

We are now close to the Conservative Party electing a new leader who will be committed to our exit by 31st October. Boris Johnson – who has my support and is likely to win – has told us we will leave then, "do or die". Jeremy Hunt has shifted closer to saying we must leave by that date. Yet there are still some in the Remain-supporting media who trot out the falsehood that as there is no majority for a so-called no-deal exit, Parliament will not allow such a departure.

The first thing to grasp is there is no such thing as a no-deal exit. Despite the weak and lacklustre negotiation conducted by Mrs May, there are various agreements and arrangements ready for our exit without signing the Withdrawal Treaty. There are haulage, customs, government procurement and aviation agreements and arrangements. The EU has set out how they will handle such an exit, and the UK Government says they too are ready, after three years to prepare for just such an eventuality.

There is no great problem with the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland/EU. It is today a complex border, with different rates and coverage of VAT and Excise taxes, and different currencies. The necessary calculations and payments for most trade are not made at the border, but by computer away from the border with settlement to the relevant tax authorities against electronic manifests of the consignment. So too could any tariffs and customs adjustments be done. There is no UK need to put new barriers and impediments on the border once we leave.

How could Parliament seek to prevent exit without the Withdrawal Treaty? Some say Parliament could pass a motion to condemn a so called "no-deal" exit. As we are due to leave in both UK and EU law, a motion would not trump that legal obligation. There would also be a need to define a "no-deal exit". Some say the forces of the Opposition could somehow grab control of parliamentary business and pass an Act of Parliament amending UK law to delay or cancel our exit. It is difficult to see how. Of course, a parliamentary process to repeal the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act and the EU Withdrawal Act could keep us in the EU, but I do not believe even this Parliament would dare to try that or have a majority to do so.

Parliament would need to take down the Government first anyway, assuming a government still hostile to the idea of staying in against the results of the referendum. Parliament would then need to form a pro-EU government, establish a majority for the repeal, argue and vote it through against strong opposition and ignore the hostile response of the public who expect Labour and Conservative MPs to fulfill their manifesto pledges to get us out.

It is important to grasp that EU law is superior to UK law. As we are leaving in EU law on 31st October, that can only be stopped by amending the EU law as well as the UK law. Mrs May delayed our exit because she wanted to. The Prime Minister can request a delay to our exit, and will get one if the EU consents. That is how EU law was changed to keep us in from April to October. Assuming a Prime Minister is determined to get us out, there will be no request for delay and therefore no further delay.

Could Parliament instruct the Prime Minister to request a delay? That too would be difficult with a determined Prime Minster. The Government controls the Order Paper, moves money resolutions and possesses Crown prerogative. These are all necessary for the passage of legislation. Nor could Parliament require delay, as it is a deal between the UK Government and the EU. They can only require the Prime Minister to seek a delay, not mandate a delay.

My conclusion is that a determined Prime Minister can get us out. 

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