Transcripts (perhaps draft) of the Article 50 ‘Brexit’ Appeal hearings at the Supreme Court

Yes. The final point, my Lord, is about Lord Carnwath's question on Wednesday in the transcript at page 46, about Article 50(3). He pointed out that in seeking to constrain the manner in which the United Kingdom's vote could be exercised, Parliament made specific reference in the schedule of the 2011 Act to Article 50(3).

Can I explain very briefly why this says nothing either way about the United Kingdom's own invocation of Article 50. It is quite a complicated point but I think I have crystallised it.

You will recall that under the main provisions of in European Union Act 2011, a complicated system of controls was imposed on the ability of ministers to transfer powers. Essentially it had to have either a referendum and an act of Parliament or an act of Parliament. I am not going to deal with that complicated system of controls, it is most clearly in section 4(1)(k). But the provisions to which they applied are in schedule 1, which is at volume 1 of the core volume, tab 6, MS 141. It is a final reference but can I ask you to turn it up, please.

You will see there -- 155, I am so sorry, 155 on the memory stick. You will see at the bottom of that list of provisions, Article 50(3), the decision of the European Council extending time during which treaties apply to state withdrawing from the EU. What matters in my submission is the heading:

"The treaty provisions where amendment removing need for a unanimity, consensus or common accord would attract a referendum."

That is one of the ones in that list. What that means for the purposes of this case is that when it included that provision in this schedule, Parliament was not contemplating the regulation of the conditions under which the UK itself could invoke Article 50, or indeed the circumstances in which UK could give or withhold approval or extension of time if another member state was intending to leave the EU.

What it was is it was just part of a list of provisions in respect of which the United Kingdom Parliament provided by statute that the Government could not agree to give up an existing veto power under the treaties without a referendum.

As Lord Pannick said and we agree, it is unsurprising that the 2008 and 2011 acts were silent on the constitutional arrangements which would permit the United Kingdom to trigger Article 50, because it is so long established and so fundamental a constitutional principle, that the Government cannot dispense with law without parliamentary authority; and it is, or at least it was until the appellant put it in issue in this case, elementary.

So the People's Challenge --

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