Theresa May’s Article 50 extension is illegal. Daily Telegraph joins the chorus.

Theresa May’s Article 50 extension is illegal, and will be challenged in the courts

The Prime Minister cannot frustrate the intention of Parliament

Bill Cash MP
13 APRIL 2019 • 9:00 PM

writing in The Telegraph

After hours of discussions with QCs and former judges, I believe the British Government’s extension of Article 50 is unlawful.

It is a fundamental principle of UK constitutional law that the Government may not use its powers, including its powers to make international agreements, to frustrate the intention of Parliament. Parliament’s intention is to be found, and is only to be found, in the laws it makes. Resolutions of the House of Commons may sometimes be politically important, but they are of no legal effect unless an Act of Parliament expressly gives them legal effect.

The intention of Parliament is, and remains still, that the UK must leave the EU. This is clear from the legislation to trigger Article 50 (the EU Notification of Withdrawal Act 2017), in which Parliament referred to and declared “the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU”. The EU Withdrawal Act 2018 gives effect to the decision to withdraw by repeatedly referring to “exit day”. The Withdrawal Act expressly states: “The European Communities Act 1972 is repealed on exit day”. Parliament originally set that day precisely at March 29 2019, but the Government has purported to extend this by statutory instruments. These can be challenged in the courts.

It is essential to note that Parliament’s legal intention for the UK to leave the EU is not conditional upon a withdrawal agreement. While many MPs have said that they do not want the UK to leave without a withdrawal agreement, and the House of Commons has passed a resolution stating this, the law of the United Kingdom is not affected by their protestations. Our law is simply that the UK must leave the EU.

It follows that when the Prime Minister exercised her power to act for the UK at the EU Council, she was obliged under our law to refrain from doing anything that would frustrate the intention of Parliament that the UK must leave the EU with or without a withdrawal agreement.

These are manifest limitations on the Prime Minister’s competence. They concern rules of UK internal constitutional law of fundamental importance. In these circumstances, I believe that it would be impossible for the Prime Minister, acting lawfully under UK law, to accept an extension of the kind proposed. When I called on her to resign last week in the House of Commons, I reminded her that she had promised over 100 times not to extend exit day.

For the Prime Minister to agree to such an extension in these circumstances is to knowingly use her power in a way that she herself believes would risk frustrating Parliament’s intention that the UK must leave the EU. This is legally beyond the pale.

It is quite obvious from her letter to Donald Tusk of April 5 2019 that the Prime Minister has absolutely no plan regarding the purpose of any extension, other than a hope that some consensus may finally be reached in the Commons or by a Faustian pact with Jeremy Corbyn. This is no reasonable basis for agreeing to an extension that would frustrate the fulfilment of Parliament’s intention by extending exit day to Hallowe’en this year. This outrageous proposal, adding insult to injury with the trick or treat of EU-imposed conditions, provides no proper basis requiring the UK to submit.

The Government’s use of its powers – including the so-called prerogative under which international relations are conducted – can be challenged in the UK courts, as Gina Miller successfully did in the Supreme Court. A challenge in the courts is fully justified in respect of the purported extension of time.

We have been told by the Prime Minister that “we will not have truly left the European Union if we are not in control of our own laws”. The repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 achieves that control as the law of the land. The Withdrawal Agreement drives a coach and horses through the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and undermines the repeal of that 1972 Act.

This is a political betrayal of the referendum vote in June 2016. That vote was expressly given by Parliament under the Referendum Act 2015 to the people and became the law of the land. It cannot be taken back by mere resolutions of the Commons nor by unlawful statutory instruments. Indeed, on Friday evening, five minutes before the deadline on the statutory instrument for the regulations to confer the extension to October 31, I tabled a block against the regulations which continues until the House returns.

Sir Bill Cash MP is chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee and former shadow Attorney General

Theresa May’s Article 50 extension is illegal, and will be challenged in the courts

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Also in The Telegraph –

Normal Tebbit sums up May’s prospects of surviving as lead of the Conservatives as follows  –

As they went home for their truncated Easter recess, the mood among Conservative MPs varied. On the record and in public view there was anger, frustration, rage and utter despair, even contempt for the Prime Minister, with the veteran Conservative backbencher Sir Bill Cash telling her to her face in the House of Commons that she should resign. In private, within the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories and the European Research Group, things were rather worse.

Link goes to –

Tory MPs are plotting to oust Theresa May by changing a party rule which states that a Prime Minister cannot be kicked out within 12 months of winning a no confidence vote.

With the Tories plunged into civil war following Mrs May’s attempted customs union compromise with Jeremy Corbyn, a number of unnamed MPs have called on their association chairmen to gather signatures to push through the rule change under schedule 9 of the Conservative Party Constitution.

It states that party rules can be changed with a petition signed by 10,000 Tory members.

THE SUN covered the Bill Cash legal bid to prove Brexit delay was ultra vires on March 26th.

As did Huff Post –


6 Responses to “Theresa May’s Article 50 extension is illegal. Daily Telegraph joins the chorus.”

  1. sovereigntea says:

    Collaborator May – Sedition & Treason ?

    Acting beyond authority in defiance of our constitution

    Buying time for the sovereignty usurping EU to complete European Defence Union creating a standing army using UK assets and personel.

    Evidence !

    PESCO: a decisive contribution to Europe’s strategic autonomyFor participating Member States, PESCO is ‘the most important instrument to foster common security and defence in an area where more coherence, continuity, coordination and collaboration are needed’.12Designed as an ambitious and inclusive joint platform, PESCO is underpinned by legally-binding commitments and national implementation plans to reliably improve military assets, increase defence spending and work towards the fulfilment of the EU Level of Ambition in security and defence.

    Elizabeth I, c.1, passed in 1572 and known under the full title An Act for the punishment of such as shall rebelliously take or detain or conspire to take or detain from the Queen’s Majesty any of her castles, towers, fortresses, holds, &c. This legislation dealt with acts of rebellion and stated that the following acts would be treated as treason:

    Anyone found guilty of committing these acts would be adjudged to be a traitor and ‘shall suffer pains of death as in cases of felony, without having any benefit of clergy or sanctuary’. 14 Elizabeth I, c.1 any person adjudged to be guilty of the following acts would also be guilty of High Treason:

    Withhold from the Queen’s Majesty any of her castles within this realm or do withhold from her Majesty any of her ships, ordnance, artillery or other munitions or fortifications of wars or shall burn or destroy any of the Queen’s ships or bar any haven within any of the Queen’s Majesty’s dominions.

  2. sovereigntea says:

    EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECISION(EU)2019/… taken in agreement with the United Kingdomof11April2019extending the period under Article50(3)TEU

  3. Protestant says:

    So The Sun, the Telegraph & Huff Post covered “the Bill Cash legal bid”, but completely IGNORED Robin Tilbrook’s legal bid! It reminds me of how UKIP won the EU referendum, and was then shoved aside by Tories pretending to be Brexiteers, who “took control” of “delivering Brexit”, with disastrous results.

    Why aren’t Bill Cash, Owen Paterson and others JOINING ROBIN TILBROOK and supporting his case in the courts, instead of trying to draw public attention AWAY from it?

  4. Tapestry says:

    Good question. The fact that Tilbrook gets no media shows he is unlikely to be managed opposition. The fact that Farage gets so much suggests the opposite. Tilbrook post on 14th April – It’s good to see that @BillCashMP has now written in support of the Judicial Review that the @EnglishDemocrat have brought in the High Court. We welcome his support and hope that he and other Brexit supporting MPs will match action with words.

    • Protestant says:

      You are spot on about “managed opposition”! For all his fine speeches, Nigel once boasted that he had single-handedly destroyed Nick Griffin & the BNP for championing the rights of Indigenous Brits, and now he seems determined to destroy Gerard Batten & UKIP for defending British working class children against gangs of Third World predators.

      But that really is welcome news about Bill Cash supporting Robin Tilbrook!

  5. Tapestry says:

    There is no reason why the English Democrats should not form an alliance with the Conservative Party, albeit with a different leader. An English parliament is not a contentious issue for a Brexited and Conservative Britain. It would strengthen it. Farage wants to destroy the Conservative Party, but is that in the interests of anyone other than Farage and his croneys? The English Democrats can deliver the same political message as Farage, and have got off their butts to sue the government. Action with little talk is far more use than the Farage formula of much talk and no action. Can we get Brexit without the Conservative Party? I would doubt it. Clearly a pact between the EDs and the Conservatives would make sense but not this side of the law case being brought against the government by the EDs. The EDs can bring back votes from Farage by offering an alternative without the smell of Brussels corruption and the UKIP fiasco for which Farage must accept some of the blame. He is trying to escape blame-free by landing it all on Batten. How come UKIP was so heavily controlled by MI5 in the first place? And who exactly is behind The Brexit Party?

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