Exit from the European Union: Article 50, Parliament and the Prerogative in the UK Courts

On Monday afternoon (28/11) I had the opportunity to go along to a seminar on the above topic at the University of Liverpool. The panel discussion was led by Adam Tucker; Constitutional Lawyer at the University, and Mike Gordon; Senior Lecturer in Constitutional Law, also at the University.

The discussion began with a brief mention of the recent litigation on Article 50 process at the High Court, and the appeal next week at the Supreme Court. As there has been so much discussion on the case it seemed only right to hold a discussion at this time. The two main comments were there has been a lot of talk of the case being “obviously wrong or obviously right”, and politics does play a part but the discussion today will favour common law rules.

The first speaker was Professor Aileen McHarg of Public Law at the University of Strathclyde who focused on the constitutional impact of the case, with the judiciary being in a “difficult position”. The Miller case litigation can be seen as “an attempt to halt Brexit” with the Liberal Democrats and 80 other MP’s creating a stumbling block in Parliament leading to delays. “The time to argue process was before the referendum, not now”, and yes the referendum was not binding but expected to be followed. Prof McHarg also added that “parliamentary sovereignty does not mean should decide everything”, and has the view of many that “vetoing Brexit could be undemocratic”, and the vote should be respected. However “it is not clear what it means and Parliament should have a say” on that.

Prof McHarg made two main points; with the first being the Miller case doesn’t guarantee a parliamentary say as a bill could just be approved, and “parliament is not in any better decision than the government to decide.” The second point is the territorial dimension e.g., Scotland and Northern Ireland, with the Scottish and Welsh assemblies intervening in the Miller case. This could be “democratically problematic and could lead to resentment” if this led to blocking Brexit. The Scottish government have felt “forced to intervene in the case”, which could have decided behind closed doors and avoided this conflict. The strictly legal rules here will “force the courts to make a choice” on this difficult decision where “the law is not clear”, and the attacks against the judges have not been excusable. The “irony of the Brexit vote to restore constitution has led to this litigation”.

The second speaker was Dr Richard Kirkham; Senior Lecturer from the University of Sheffield. Dr Kirkham spoke on the Courts and the duty to exercise restraint. The “deeper issue is about how we interpret law”, which the case will have to decide. The real problem was in 2015 when the referendum act was created as “the worst bit of legislation ever written”, as included nothing about what happens afterwards. Dr Kirkham gave the prediction that the result “should be respected whatever”, and this could be a “delaying tactic but not a mistake”, as a part of political constitution and democracy. The conduit argument of joining the European Community with the ECA in 1972 was mentioned quoting J. Finnis as an “alternative rights based analysis”, where the “prerogative power includes the right to make or break treaties”, and only a “statutory right created by Parliament that can not be changed.” The decision in the Miller case is “not a bad example of judicial activism”, the case would require activism either way. The main problem leading to this mess after the referendum is that there was “very little governance in the 2015 act”.

The third speaker was Dr Hélène Tyrrell; Lecturer on Public Law from the University of Newcastle, who focused on the European Communities Act from 1972 and the narrow legal question about the scope of the prerogative power. She explained that it was “not a question on whether parliament should have a say, but whether the executive (PM) have the authority?”. In the Divisional Court, the Government argued that authority is given by the prerogative power to conduct foreign affairs. The claimants argued (successfully) the contrary, on the basis that the effect of an Article 50 notification would “frustrate” the ECA 1972. The claimant’s arguments have since been challenged by a number of academics, who suggest that the statute (ECA) should be understood as merely ‘ambulatory’ (a ‘gateway’ a ‘conduit’, a ‘filter’) for the rights existing on the international plane. If that is the case, then an A50 notification affects rights on the international plane only, not rights found in domestic law. That would be well within the foreign affairs prerogative. Dr Tyrrell was not persuaded by those arguments, giving reasons as to why the analogical reasoning was not strong enough to support it. She concluded with some general reflections, including a feeling that the Supreme Court will be under “enormous pressure to give an unanimous decision”, even if for slightly different reasons. Although it will be more interesting for the academics, if they do not!

The fourth speaker was Professor of Law; TT Arvind, also from the University of Newcastle who began talking about the broad issue with the whole spectrum of hard Brexit to soft Brexit, as no one knows what agreement we will get. The key question is “who should decide what Brexit looks like; the government or Parliament ?” TT Arvind feels it is “a tragedy that the case has come to court”.

Mike Gordon gave a sum up point of this being a fascinating debate that we are all engaged in, and now contextually more informed. There was some time for a Q&A from the audience with the first question being; “Would a codified constitution make our lives easier?” The answer given was that there was nothing on this before the referendum, and there would be “problems creating a written constitution” as there are “profound differences of opinion on what democracy means.”

Professor Michael Dougan of EU law at Liverpool, was in the audience and added some comments that the decision could be seen to be more political than to do with law. He added that this is a major “defining moment for 100 years” politically, legally and economically. “EU rights and obligations have been transmitted into domestic law” over the last few decades, and “the case will set a tone in an increasing power of the executive.”  It was agreed by the panel that UKIP created this referendum, and now we have a debate about “the will of the people versus law”, and “do we need more democracy or less?” The referendum “was a travesty and should not have been allowed like it was”, as was self serving on both sides and is a “massively grave case for concern.” Also there is a “technical nightmare with contracts with the EU needing to be agreed on a case by case basis”.

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UK Cities, Universities and Businesses after the Referendum: Risks and Opportunities

This week I had the chance to attend a superb conference on Brexit at the Maritime Museum, on the Albert Dock in Liverpool. The day was put together and co-ordinated by Professor Michael Parkinson, and the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice at the University of Liverpool.

The conference included some fantastic speakers including Lord Heseltine; Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool; Professor Michael Dougan of European Law, also at the University; and Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool. There were also business leaders, and commentators including Chris Hearld, Senior Partner of KPMG; Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North; and Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of the Centre for Cities.

Prof Michael Parkinson began the conference with the major points that Brexit is the most “crucially important issue since the Second World War”, and makes the way ahead domestically and internationally uncertain. Cities, Universities and Businesses will be important in “planning for the long and winding road ahead”, and have to brave and say what it is we want. He stated we can have the best opportunities and discussions to understand what happened, while minimising risks, and coming up with key action points.

Lord Heseltine was then introduced as being supportive of the city & university, and a committed European & businessman. He started his speech with there are “a lot of questions on the agenda, and many unanswerable”. When he first came to Liverpool as an MP and Cabinet minister the Albert Dock was written off, but now has been transformed along with the city. When looking to the future remember how Liverpool has changed since 1979, and it will be unrecognisable in the future again. There will be a “re-configuration of power” with the public and private sectors, including universities and local authorities working together. “However “in politics your solutions create the next generation of problems”. Lord Hesletine sees education as one of Britain’s biggest problems, with literacy and numeracy standards at primary level.  Devolution by a communication revolution and change can lead to the creation of “local visions and involve communities in making them.” Unemployment should also be at the top of the devolution agenda in this community based approach. One of his ideas links to his passion as a horticulturalist, as communities can get together regenerating open spaces while learning new skills.

He believes there is a “toxic mix when living standards freeze” and led to the vote to Leave in June. It is in “Britain’s self interest to be in Europe”, with all 27 other countries agreeing, and “Europe is significant as changed into a parliamentary democracy”, and has led to peace across the continent. The 27 other Eu nations have to be persuaded during negotiations, and there are “hundreds of versions of Brexit that could be made, so uncertainty.” “Rising inflation could see wages not keeping up with price rises”, and  public opinion is also not static, and “didn’t stop in June”  and could lead to re-thinking in parliament. Elections in France and Germany next year could also lead to changes in their governments, possibly more right-wing following from the vote here and Donald Trump in the US. The speech was ended with there is a “serious prolonged period of uncertainty ahead.” There was a huge round of applause for this great start to an inspiring day of speeches and discussion.

Vice Chancellor; Prof Janet Beer was the next speaker, who talked about how will universities sustain their European engagement? She spoke about embracing the challenge of the Leave vote, and looking at the opportunities. “Let`s make the university an attractive place for international students”, as they continue to be a success story for the UK. They need “growth locally”, be “globally connected”, and have the “right investment from government to thrive outside of the EU”. “Universities in the UK are adaptable and forward looking, and with the right support/investment” can play vital role in our  global success. She would also “like to see commitment from government to replace lost research funding from exit of the EU”. The five main points she mentioned in regard to universities were:

  • Encouraging students from around the world to study in the UK
  • Enhancing international research collaboration
  • Making the UK an attractive destination for talented international university staff
  • Increasing public investment in research and innovation
  • Giving UK students and staff access to global opportunities

Prof Beer also highlighted the positive financial impact of universities on the UK’s economy, a figure she put at £73 million annually, whilst calling for an end to the uncertainty surrounding EU students access to finance and tuition fees for those beginning studies in 2018/19.

Prof Michael Dougan; who specialises in EU law, and had videos go viral online during the referendum campaign was next up, before a short coffee break. He discussed how the UK legal system will adapt to the leaving the EU, and constitutional issues. There are “uncertain challenges ahead” in this “de-europeanisation” to tackle this change, and there is “no simple solution” in how the government creates a strategy to preserve the legal system. There will also be changes in the EU itself, and from elsewhere and “Brexit is only one of it’s problems”, although the “referendum has given the EU an urgency to reform. Alison McGovern MP asked about will elections in France and Germany upset reforms, which could lead to more uncertainty ahead. His last point was “it is still possible to stop Brexit legally, but the longer we wait the more it becomes accepted fact.”

Chris Hearld, Senior Partner at KPMG North spoke about the private sector’s views of risks and opportunities with Brexit. He said that Brexit was  a poke in eye for businesses” in the Northern Powerhouse but north stays pragmatic, even with the uncertainty. Do some feel globalisation has left them behind so voted leave? There are “more risks then upsides”, and will be volatility ahead in foreign exchange markets, and a visible positioning on pricing, with inflation and squeezed margins. He stressed the implications for the grocery sector with “Brexit was a marmite issue, and now marmite is a Brexit issue”. In the mid term access to skills here isn’t working so skilled migrant labour is needed, and the “weakness of the pound has lowered conversion into other currencies” for migrants, meaning harder to encourage over here. Some positives however could be a “fundamental re-think on regional growth” like the Northern Powerhouse, the “skills agenda” and thinking innovatively.”Benefits will come long term”, and “let`s have a consistent narrative to drive forward northern businesses”, and challenge the uncertainty.

Jo Beall, as Director of Education and Society of the British Council spoke about; Global Britain beyond Brexit. Jo said “we have many unique soft power assets that we can be proud of”, and need to “keep up the role of Britain in the world”. Resentment can’t be allowed to take over, with education being key here, as a “global survey found a big fall in the number of young people interested in coming to UK” to visit, study or work after Brexit. She said the “UK needs to continue bidding into Horizon 2020 (EU science funding), and let`s be active and not self limiting.” The politics of resentment needs to be challenged as we show Britain is outward looking and not xenophobic.

Professor Philip McCann of the University of Groningen; who holds the Endowed Chair of Economic Geography spoke next, about how UK city regions have benefited from Europe, and must continue to do so in future. His argument illustrated the continued north-south divide in UK which Brexit will not fix, “with the places that voted to leave are the most economically dependent on EU”, e.g in north and midlands. There is “widespread opportunities for policy learning from Europe” as the UK is the “most centralised country that has governed the most unequal society.” Also no regions in the Netherlands are as poor as people in the south east of England. He concluded while quoting his book; The UK Regional-National Economic Problem: Geography, Globalisation and Governance, that the UK is un-remarkable and “average on everything” when looking at statistics.

The UK Regiona-National Economic Problem

After a tasty buffet lunch with the chance to network; Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of the Centre for Cities spoke about; what’s next for UK cities after Brexit? Understanding what is next after the referendum and US elections needs to be be clearer. “Uncertainty over months and years” will lead to investments and jobs being paused and possibly cancelled. “If businesses don’t know soon, they will push the button anyway because they can`t handle uncertainty”. We need to make more of our cities with access to skills, a change to strategy moving forward. “International sister cities” should be found to “boost economic collaboration” and we need to stay engaged with European cities, and more longer term planning is needed to evolve in a “fast changing environment”.

Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North; spoke about how, will and should the North respond? He talked about “making the North of England the place  to be in Europe”and create a vision of seeing it’s potential. Strategies have got to be “place based and make room for regional differences”. The Northern Powerhouse is the closest we have to the kind of vision we could have linking the cities together but a “Great North Plan based on strengths, assets and city region collaboration” should be made.  He showed a chart outlining 6 elements which will bring things together in a 20 year period:

The Mayor of Liverpool; Joe Anderson had sometime to come and give a talk during his busy schedule on; How is Liverpool rising to the challenge? He talked about the particular implication for ethnic communities in Liverpool, and fighting racism by getting faith leaders together to make everyone feel welcome. “As a proud European, the vote was a shock and am proud Liverpool voted Remain”, especially being a cosmopolitan and welcoming city. The mayor said it is important we continue with events, partnerships and investments to “present Liverpool as a core city in England and the UK”. Forums like this need to be continued and we need to think ahead while “being positive”.

The last session before a summary at the end of this engaging and inspiring day was a panel discussion on; What is to be done? On the panel were; Colin Sinclair, Chief Executive of the Liverpool Knowledge Quarter; Asif Hamid, Interim Chair of Liverpool City Region LEP; Max Steinberg, Chief Executive of Liverpool Vision and; Professor Gary Cook of the Management School at the University of Liverpool. Asif Hamid talked about being proud of this great city, and there are opportunities for investment. Max Steinberg outlined the risks including inflation rise, sterling continuing to be volatile, and businesses not surviving. There are opportunities however with marketing, trade and partnerships with China, and investing in technology to make prices competitive. Max also said “Brexit might not mean Brexit, and is still room to play and admit mistakes”. Colin Sinclair talked about the Knowledge Quarter being a large part of the city centre, and the city being one of “opportunity and optimism”. An audience member commented that “Liverpool is too male” and should be more female voices moving forward. A hard Brexit will not be costless says Gary Cook, and mythologies about trade, inward investment and immigration need to be challenged.

Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council; Ged Fitzgerald closed  superb a day of discussion with there are challenges and we are”all looking for certainty” in the economy, trade, universities and many other areas. In his own words “Brexit won’t stall the success of Liverpool”, and we can get on with the opportunities by building on partnership, networks and collaborations. Ged thanked all the speakers and Prof Parkinson for the conference which was put together incredibly well in my view. It was apparent Prof Parkinson had spent much time creating a successful day, with a chance for questions and comments from the audience. I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to attend, and learnt a lot from the different perspectives of the speakers.

The debate surrounding Brexit and what it means is far from over, and from what I have seen there has been no proper plan outlined on how best to carry out this exit; before or since the referendum result in June. Brexit may still happen but there is many political and legal reasons why it could prove to be impossible to deliver, and many will keep on the fight against. So is Brexit a risk or opportunity?, that is for us to decide as we move forward with optimism, in this time of uncertainty.

November break on the Island

Were lucky enough to win a free return on Red Funnel after staying on the Isle of Wight back in May after filling in their customer survey, so booked a short autumn break. There were no problems on the drive down from the North West into Southampton so had a few hours looking around. There was even time for a drink at Banana Wharf in Ocean Village on a sunny November afternoon.

Ocean Village, Southampton

The ferry trip over to East Cowes was calm and a great start to our weekend break. We had found a small house in Shanklin to rent for the three nights, which was modern and included everything you would need. The house called Driftwood was close to pubs, restaurants and shops, and a short walk down to the seafront. The weather was fine apart from some rain on the Saturday, and I managed to capture the sea looking wild in Sandown.

Sandown Beach in the rain

I would say even on a wet day in November there is still plenty to do, with the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown having a free open weekend. There were stalls showing fossils and old coins from local groups, and students of the University of Portsmouth. The msueum is great for children but would say adults would find the exhibition interesting if have an interest in fossils and dinosaurs. The building itself is well designed with the roof in the shape of a giant pterosaur.

Dinosaur Isle

The rest of Saturday was spent looking around the Garlic Farm shop buying a few tasty products, and some time at Arreton Barns Craft Village. I would recommend a drink or a meal at the Dairyman’s Daughter there with a choice of drinks and large portions, especially with the warm fire on a cold day. A few other pubs worth a mention are both in Shanklin; The Crab Inn situated in the Old Village which offers value meals during the week, and The Steamer on the Seafront. This was my second time at the Steamer and can’t fault anything. We came by on a Saturday evening with live music from Jukebox Jazz, which gave a great atmosphere while eating delicious meals, in large portions and great value.

Jazz at the Steamer Inn

We spent sometime taking in the views driving to the Needles on another sunny day, and took the short walk up to the tea room at the old battery, with views over to the Lighthouse. After October the family-friendly attractions and the chairlift may be closed but there is still a chance to see the Glassblowing and Sweet Manufactory, along with refreshments, and the large shop for any souvenirs or gifts.

The Needles

View from the Old Battery

On the Monday just before we left on the ferry, there was few hours spent around Seaview on the Eastern side of the Island, and some lunch at Briddlesford Lodge Farm, which would recommend for the quality of local produce.

View towards Portsmouth from Seaview

Guernsey Cows on the Farm

Leaving the Island 😦

I have only been back two days and is something about the place that makes you wanting to go back for more, with so much to do even in winter. There is the chance also to just relax away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland, giving you a piece of Pure Island Happiness.

Two divided nations? Time to move forward in unity!

I woke up to the news that Donald Trump was ahead in the Presidential race, and was as shocked and filled with disbelief as many I know. As the news came in that Hillary Clinton conceded and the markets across Asia and Europe were sent into turmoil, I felt a worry again close to what had felt on the 24th June after the EU referendum result.

Image result for donald trump

I don’t completely understand how an US election works, as know the British system is different, but can see what policy ideas the new President elect has put across. He has talked about repatriating jobs, building infrastructure and dealing with internal programs. This has been discussed as inward looking, which goes with his anti-immigrant rhetoric, as has parallels with what is going on here surrounding the EU referendum.

Has the result over in America been the same as it was here with people who voted Trump not expecting him to win? Also I find it interesting that many who voted for Brexit can’t see the similarity between the campaigns even though they used slogans like “Make America Great Again” and “Take Back Control”. I see both results as a protest vote against a system that may have flaws but can be worked on. This protest is based on lies and stoking up division, and is not people power, but could make us all worse off in the long term. Trump himself used Brexit plus as what his win would be like, and even Nigel Farage came over to help him campaign.

It could be said that these results have been brought on by fear, insecurity and anger in the establishment, even though could be argued these campaigners and leaders are part of the rich elite themselves. Some have argued that Trump’s rhetoric used during the election could be just words and will appear more moderate as he takes up office, the world will be watching as his term starts in January.

I do wonder what happens now as my shock is subsiding, but feel we need to move forward and heal the division that seems to be spreading from the UK to the USA and hopefully not beyond. I still believe Brexit can be stopped with the uncertainty created in trade, culturally and influence. We can stand united with our neighbours across Europe for our national interest and work to build a country and world we can be proud of.

Article 50, the Supreme Court & Scotland

brexit-high-court-4

Gina Miller outside the High Court.

The high court ruling made last Thursday an interesting day for many, which has derailed Theresa May’s strategy for Brexit. She can no longer control Britain’s approach to Brexit alone, and Parliament must play a role. David Davis; the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union included in his statement on Article 50, on the 7th November that:

“Our position in the case was that the Government were therefore entitled to invoke the procedure set out in article 50. The court has, however, come to a different view. It held that the Government do not have the prerogative power to give notice under article 50 without legislation authorising them to do so.”

He went on to say that the government disagrees with the Court’s judgement and;

“The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by an Act of Parliament. Our position remains that the only means of leaving is through the procedure set out in article 50, and that triggering article 50 is properly a matter for the Government using their prerogative powers. As a result, we will appeal the High Court’s judgment at the Supreme Court.”

The legal arguments are being prepared, as the government has been given permission to leapfrog the Court of Appeal straight to the Supreme court, likely scheduled in early December with the decision in January. David Davis and the government still believe that this legal timetable will allow for Article 50 to be triggered in March 2017, and they will respect and deliver the referendum result, with the  words; “the people have spoken, and we intend to act on their decision.”

The Prime Minister could try to trigger Article 50 after a debate in the House of Commons rather than after an Act of Parliament. However, the opponents of Brexit could then legitimately mount a legal challenge that Parliament had not been properly involved, and once again bring up legal process.

The only way for the Government to ensure it avoids this kind of challenge is to obtain an Act of Parliament, which could be proposed by a bill. This would authorise Theresa May to trigger Article 50, although MP’s would be unlikely to block  a bill like this, it could be amended with guaranteeing continuing to be members of the Single Market for example, and could possibly make the government’s negotiating position harder and impossible to deliver.

Within the Q&A after the statement it was also mentioned by Anna Soubry MP, and has been discussed by many on social media about the insulting language and abuse aimed at the judiciary, with one newspaper branding the judges as “enemies of the people”. Also Gina Miller who brought the case to the court has received threats of violence via social media. The number of hate crimes based on nationality have also jumped, with this division being shown to be on the increase surrounding the referendum, and whatever our view on Brexit we need to work together to build a country we can be proud of.

The news today (8th November) is that the Scottish Government is looking to intervene in the case when heard in the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court was to allow the Scottish government’s intervention and ruled against the UK government, it could mean there would have to be a vote on Article 50 in Holyrood as well as in Westminster. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said:

” the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and the national parliament of Scotland cannot be brushed aside as if they do not matter”.

The Welsh government has also said it would seek to be involved in the case, while the Northern Ireland Attorney General has told a court in Belfast that one of two legal challenges to Brexit should be fast-tracked directly to the Supreme Court.

The debate surrounding Brexit and what it means is far from over, and from what I have seen there has been no proper plan outlined on how best to carry out this exit; before or since the referendum result in June. Brexit may still happen but there is many political and legal reasons why it could prove to be impossible to deliver, and many will keep on the fight against.

Europe: Where are we now? Where are we going?

I had the opportunity to attend a Q&A session at Liverpool Cathedral on last Sunday evening (30th October); with a panel of EU law experts including Prof Michael Dougan, from the University of Liverpool.

Prof Dougan began the evening with a 20 minute speech outlining the internal and external issues and challenges ahead with leaving the European Union. He also briefly mentioned three parameters that the panel would stick to; none are active members of a political campaign; they have the skills of lawyers with both benefits and limitations; and Brexit is unexplored territory, with some questions not having an answer.

The internal challenges include preparing the UK legal system for the exit, which has been talked about at the Conservative party conference with the ‘Great Reform Bill’, and the relations between regions of the UK and overseas territories, especially with Scotland and Northern Ireland. The external challenges include the negotiation of the withdrawal agreement with the 27 other EU countries, what to do with the 3 million EU nationals in the UK & the 2 million British abroad, environmental & legal issues which won’t be completed within 2 years (can be shorter or longer), rebuilding legal aspects with the rest of the world, pension agreements with the British citizens abroad and the UK will have to come up with a trade policy as doesn’t have one separate from the EU.

Michael Dougan also stated that before Brexit, the U.K. had best deal of any Member State e.g. Eurozone opt-out, budget rebate. Leaving this club of 28 will be unpredictable, uncertain and unknown, and transform the UK.

Question to Samantha Currie: How is EU immigration good for our economy?

A. Evidence has shown that EU migrants have been young, net contributors to our economy. Economically active without drawing much on healthcare and social provisions, by contrast, many U.K. Citizens in EU are economically inactive, older, and draw heavily on social provisions in EU countries.

Question: Where does EU law has jurisdiction?

A. Not just trade, there is environmental & human rights and have grown over time. These are given by nation states and chosen freely. The EU has a fundamental rights charter.

Question to Eleanor Drywood: How will Brexit affect position of EU citizens in the UK?

A. Reform of whole UK immigration system likely. Unclear position for EU citizens but likely in better position than non-EU citizens.

Question to Greg Messenger: What are the legal consequences of the UK government’s deal with Nissan?

A. UK must be careful with helping Nissan, could be brought before the WTO if help to Nissan is seen as a subsidy. A tariff free deal for only one sector(e.g auto industry) may be subject to challenge before the WTO.

Question to Mike Gordon: Does trigger for Art 50 rest with the executive or Parliament?

A. Power lies with executive, not with Parliament. At point of trigger, nothing happens, Parliament will be involved in negotiations after trigger.  Prof Dougan argues that Parliament may well be sidelined even after the trigger of Art 50. PM has been unclear about extent to which Parliament will be involved.

Question to Michael Dougan: Can we revoke our decision to leave after triggering Article 50?

A. It is legally possible to withdraw art 50 notification before the effects of withdrawal take effect, but politically very unlikely.  It may be difficult to convince 27 member states to allow this, and constitutionally would have to reverse the referendum decision.

Question to Thomas Horsley: What is the UK’s negotiation position?

A. It is unclear and will need to be firmed up soon. Norway-style deal seems unlikely due to concerns over immigration.

Question to Gregory Messenger: Will any future trade deal require the control of an international court?

A. Any free trade agreement entails restrictions on sovereignty i.e dispute settlement mechanics for enforcing rights (if UK non-compliance).

Question to Stephanie Reynolds: What is likelihood of withdrawal from European Convention of Human Rights?

A. Parallels between EU and ECHR treatment in the press but is separate, is a focus on negative aspects, distrust of control of foreign actors.

Question to Michael Dougan: What is the effect of Brexit on the EU?

A. Changing the balance of power within the EU through loss of power of UK. Spain, Poland and Italy jostling to gain power lost by UK. Possibility of EU reform becomes more likely without the UK’s threat of veto to treaty changes. Also, Brexit is merely one of EU’s issues. It is an institution that manages collective problem of nations.

Question: How will Brexit affect Liverpool?

Eleanor Drywood: Worrying rhetoric around immigration. Liverpool is a city which thrives on the basis of its diversity. Effect on University may be worrying.

Michael Dougan: UK less attractive place to study and teach following Brexit due to perception of Britain and its uncertain future immigration policies.

Paul Rattigan, Canon for Discipleship at the Cathedral had a chance to answer a question from the church’s point of view, and how it is a safe place to talk about risky things.

Question to the panel: Are there any positive aspects of Brexit?

Mike Gordon: Brexit was an expression of citizen alienation and we must recognise that moving forward

Gregory Messenger: Brexit will force us to have a discussion about what kind of trade policy we want in this country.

Thomas Horsley: Post-Brexit, we must reverse the narrative of the distrust of expertise.

Samantha Currie: In the future, we must not let debate sink to the level they did before the referendum.

Stephanie Reynolds: Brexit may inspire the EU the to reform, to bring the organisation closer to its citizens.

Eleanor Drywood: Britain can no longer escape its woeful response to the refugee crisis by blaming it on the EU.

Prof Dougan finished with that Post-Brexit, the government can longer take credit for what the EU does well, while using the EU as a scapegoat for its own mistakes. The dominant narrative of Leave will have consequences for all of us in the months and years ahead, which those who campaigned for it won’t take responsibility for.