Prime Minister’s Questions resumed in the House of Commons on Wednesday 7 September, following the summer recess. Theresa May answered several questions on Britain’s future plans to leave the European Union from both sides of the chamber:
- Angus Robertson, the Scottish National Party’s Parliamentary Group Leader in the Commons, reminded the Prime Minister that Scotland had voted ‘overwhelmingly’ to stay in the European Union and so far, in his opinion, no coherent Brexit plan had been drawn up by the government. Following David Davis’ indication earlier this week that the UK was set to leave the Single Market, Mr Robertson directly asked the Prime Minister whether this was indeed her intention. Mrs May chose to keep her cards close to her chest on this occasion, replying “it would not be right for me or this government to give a running commentary on negotiations and it would not be right for us to pre-judge those negotiations (with the EU)”. It is clear that there is much to discuss in the coming months between EU leaders, with the UK’s membership of the Single Market being a major hurdle to overcome.
- Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP, reminded the House that there was no legal requirement for the government to seek the permission of parliament before invoking Article 50 (and thus beginning the UK’s formal 2 year withdrawal process from the European Union). The Prime Minister agreed strongly with this statement, commenting “the government’s position is very clear, this is a prerogative power, it is a power that can be exercised by the government – those people who are trying to prolong the process by their legal references in relation to parliament are those who want to stop us from leaving the EU”. Recent arguments had been made by some Labour Party MPs who backed the Remain vote that the result of the referendum should only be enforced if passed by a majority of MPs in the House of Commons – this is clearly not the Prime Minister’s intention (as is her legal right); and invoking Article 50 seems to be a matter of time.