What is a ‘meaningful vote’ when it comes to the UK-EU exit deal? The issue was raised by the Lords who passed an entirely sensible amendment to Theresa May’s Brexit bill (which was sadly rejected) calling for MPs to be given a real choice about the terms on which the UK leaves the EU.
The government has presented MPs with a Hobson’s choice: accept the Tory exit deal or crash out of the European Union without a deal. But, as the cross-party Lords recognised, MPs ought to be given the ability to reject whatever deal Number 10 strikes with Brussels without the UK having to leave with no deal at all.
To have a clear idea of what a ‘meaningful vote’ looks like, we must address the question that the so-called ‘Dublin case’ seeks to answer: can the UK unilaterally revoke Article 50 now that it’s been triggered?
I’m a plaintiff in the case alongside Green Party of England and Wales Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley, Green Party Northern Ireland Leader Steven Agnew, and the Director of the Good Law Project Jolyon Maugham QC.
Getting the legal clarity is important because the ability to revoke Article 50 means that two years from now, no option is off the table – including the option to remain in the EU if MPs, and the people they represent, believe the exit deal is not in Britain’s best interests.
If ‘taking back control’ is to mean anything, it should mean the people have the final say on the deal negotiated on their behalf. As Greens, we are clear on the need for a ratification referendum at the end of the two-year negotiation process. The EU referendum should have been the start of a democratic process, not the end.