Gerry Facenna QC and Jack Williams advise on Article 50 TEU – should Parliament or the executive trigger UK withdrawal from the EU?

11 Jul 2016

Gerry Facenna QC  and Jack Williams  have been instructed by John Halford of Bindmans LLP (as part of a six-counsel team plus constitutional experts) to advise a group of private individuals with an interest in the proper constitutional mechanism by which the UK can withdraw from the EU. The team is acting with some funding raised from the crowdfunding platform, Crowdjustice. Over 400 individuals, representing a cross-section of ordinary people who are likely to be substantially affected by the UK’s departure from the EU, have made donations (capped at £100).

The key question is whether Parliamentary involvement is necessary to trigger any UK withdrawal from the EU or if mere use of executive power (under any subsisting prerogative power) is sufficient.

On advice, a letter has been sent to Government on behalf of those represented seeking clarification that the process of withdrawal from the EU under Article 50 TEU will not be commenced until it is authorised by elected officials in Parliament through primary legislation. This letter sets out an analysis of why it would be unlawful for any Minister to purport to trigger the Article 50 TEU process without the involvement and authorisation of the sovereign, democratically-elected UK Parliament.

The full letter to Government has been published online and is available to read in full here and here (along with further information about the crowd-funded action).