Brexit could be delayed by the House of Lords, Theresa May was warned on Friday.
Conservative peer and former newspaper editor Baroness Wheatcroft said today the prime minsiter’s aim of triggering Article 50 by the end of March was an “impossible target”.
“It’s only right to delay triggering Article 50 until we have a clearer idea of what it actually entails,” she told the BBC. “I think there will be others in the Lords who feel the same way. How many? It’s hard to say. But I think there could be a majority in favour of delaying Article 50 until we know a little more about what lies ahead.”
Yesterday the High Court ruled that MPs and peers must be given a vote on the triggering of Article 50 - the formal mechanism that allows the UK to leave the EU. The government had argued that May had the authority to start the two year process without parliament being given a say.
Although the majority of MPs backed the ‘Remain’ campaign in the referendum - it is highly unlikely they will try and prevent Brexit from happening. However the court’s ruling does give parliament the ability to shape what form Brexit takes, as well as the timetable.
May had said she wanted to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017 which would see the UK leave the EU by April 2019.
Many Brexiteers are furious at he court’s ruling, including Nigel Farage who said he believes “betrayal may be near at hand”.
However former Lib Dem deputy prime minister Nick Clegg this morning Farage and others were guilty of “rank hypocrisy” by complaining about parliament being given a say - as that is exactly what they had campaigned for in the referendum.
“Democracy means the will of the people and the majority of the people in this country voted for Brexit,” Clegg said.
“But democracy does not mean that you give the government of the day unqualified rights to do exactly what it wants. It’s as absurd as saying once a general election takes place MPs should just retreat to their constituencies and never bother to do anything in Westminster because the government of the day could do exactly what it likes.”