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Never mind the Government, Parliament fires the Brex Pistol

25 January 2017

The Supreme Court has just ruled on one of the most significant British constitutional cases in recent history. An Act of Parliament is needed before Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be triggered and the UK leaves the EU.

The court said that withdrawing from the EU and removing the source of EU law is a fundamental change to the UK’s constitution and will see the removal of rights from individuals. As a result, the Government cannot start the Brexit process on its own – Parliament must have a say.

The Government says that this week it will table a Bill to trigger Article 50. The drafting of the Bill will be debated in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. MPs and peers will propose amendments to the Bill before voting for it to become law. For all the talk in the right-wing press of the court’s decision “blocking” Brexit, it is still highly likely that Article 50 will be triggered and the UK will leave the EU.

What does this mean for immigration? The Prime Minister clearly wants an end to free movement of EU migrants into the UK. Jeremy Corbyn has said that the Labour Party will not frustrate the Brexit process and his party is “not wedded” to free movement. Quite how this will pan out in Parliament remains to be seen. However, if MPs of both the Government and Opposition vote in accordance with the messages given by their leaders, we will likely see an end to freedom of movement.

The Government also wants to guarantee the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK and vice versa. However, while there is still uncertainty over what Brexit will finally look like, we continue to advise EEA nationals and their family members to apply for documentation confirming their current rights of residence in the UK. Doing so will help to secure their position in the UK post-Brexit.

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