Brexit Begins: Stephen Barclay signs ‘commencement order’

Brexit Begins: Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay signs ‘commencement order’ formally beginning the process for UK to leave Europe on October 31

  • Senior Brexiteers previously said the signing of the document was ‘totemic’
  • Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay understood to have now signed the document
  • Signing of the order backs PM’s pledge to leave EU on October 31 this year

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has signed the ‘commencement order’ that will trigger the end of the EU law’s supremacy in the UK.

Senior Tory Brexiteers previously said the signing of the document was ‘totemic’ and a ‘do-or-die’ pledge confirming the UK will be leaving the EU.

Theresa May had angered Brexiteers by refusing to sign the order and instead agreeing to delay Brexit with the EU until October 31.

But now Mr Barclay is now understood to have signed the document, as reported by The Sunday Telegraph.

Stephen Barclay, pictured outside Downing Street last week, is now understood to have signed the commencement order

The signing of the commencement order will repeal the European Communities Act of 1972, and bring the European Withdrawal Act into force.

The Withdrawal Act was already voted through in the Commons in September last year, but for it to come into effect a ‘commencement order’ needed to be signed by a minister. 

Signing the ‘commencement order’ was described as ‘not merely symobolic’ by hard line Brexiteer Steve Baker.

He told The Times: ‘It is absolutely totemic. It shows a transformation in the approach, that Boris Johnson is willing to leave on a fixed date with no question of extension. It’s the do-or-die pledge in black and white. It’s not merely symbolic. 

‘Once it’s signed that’s it, the UK is leaving. Theresa May did not bring the repeal of the European Communities Act on a fixed date because she was always willing to extend.’

It comes as Boris Johnson is due to meet Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron this week to talk about a new Brexit deal.

Mr Johnson will make clear to the French president and German chancellor that Britain will leave the European Union on October 31 with or without a deal.

The PM, who is heading to Berlin on Wednesday and Paris on Thursday, is expected to say that Parliament will not and cannot cancel the outcome of the EU referendum.

He will insist there must be a new deal to replace Theresa May’s thrice-defeated Withdrawal Agreement if Britain is to leave with a settlement on October 31.

Boris Johnson is due to meet Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron this week to talk about a new Brexit deal

However, Number 10 said it expects there will be ‘very little discussion’ of Brexit during the visits, predicting that each side would state its position and then move on to other topics.

Instead, it is thought the discussions will revolve around next weekend’s G7 agenda – with topics including foreign policy, security, trade and the environment likely to dominate.

Mr Johnson will meet world leaders at the summit in Biarritz, France, where he will seek to spread the message of the UK’s ‘renewed global reach’.

Details of the PM’s travel plans emerged as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his call for MPs to work together to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Corbyn, who set out his plan to be installed as a caretaker prime minister last week to stop the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal, said his proposal is the ‘most democratic way’ to prevent a no-deal.

He told the Observer: ‘My message to MPs across Parliament is simple and urgent: only by working together can we stop no-deal.

‘Three years after the EU referendum, the country stands at a precipice. Boris Johnson has become Prime Minister without any popular mandate. He has no right to drive our country off a cliff and into the arms of Donald Trump with his no-deal fixation.

‘The plan I set out this week is the simplest and most democratic way to stop no-deal. We have to seize the opportunity before it’s too late, so the people, rather than an unelected Prime Minister, can decide our country’s future.’

The Liberal Democrats and senior Tories have rejected his proposal, however it won the potential backing of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Tory MP Guto Bebb.

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