UK Prime Minister Theresa May was dealt an expected setback yesterday, with the Supreme Court ruling that parliament must vote on whether government can trigger the Brexit process.
While the government is expected to win the vote, Brexit secretary David Davis is promising a parliamentary bill within days, to be completed ‘within a fortnight’. Sources have told the BBC this bill will be introduced on Thursday. This piles pressure on an already tight deadline May has set herself to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.
Meanwhile, carmakers with production in the UK are saying they will wait to see how the business environment pans out before taking action. Nissan chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn says Nissan will wait to review the final deal but that its investment plans still stand, including its decision to build the new Qashqai – its most popular model in Europe – and X-Trail crossover in Sunderland. This decision was made following assurances of support by the UK government.
Speaking at Davos, Ghosn said: ‘Obviously when the package comes, you are going to have to re-evaluate the situation, and say, okay, is the competitiveness of your plant preserved or not?’
Both Nissan and Toyota have said they will take steps to increase the competitiveness of their UK plants if Brexit raises the costs of their UK operations.
Although both major UK parties have promised not to frustrate the process, any unforeseen eventualities could make the deadline unachievable, which would undermine May’s position. However, to her benefit, the court has not stipulated exactly how she should allow parliament to vote, and has rejected the notion that there must be votes in the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
David Davis has said the bill for parliament to vote on will be ‘straightforward’ – allowing the bill to pass through as quickly as possible. Critics argue this is also to minimise parliament’s role in the process.
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