Clegg Says U.K. Lawmakers Will Pursue Soft Brexit in Parliament

(Bloomberg) -- Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said lawmakers will seek to force a “soft Brexit” after U.K. judges ruled on Thursday that parliamentary approval is needed to begin negotiations with the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s government shouldn’t “waste time” on an appeal against the decision and bring a bill to Parliament as soon as possible, Clegg said in an interview with BBC Radio.

“We will seek, with other parties in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, to amend the legislation such that Parliament would say to government it should pursue a soft Brexit, not a hard Brexit,” Clegg said. “And there should be some means by which the British people have a say on the final deal.”

While Clegg’s Liberal Democrat party only has eight lawmakers in the House of Commons, it has a more significant representation in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of Parliament where further amendments could be made to the bill. He said there is a “body of opinion” in both houses to avoid a “self-harming” hard divorce from the bloc.

The government should tell Parliament what sort of Brexit it wants, Clegg said, so it is clear, for example, whether it wants Britain to be in or out of the single market, the customs union and bodies for cooperation on law enforcement.

A government appeal against the ruling will be heard at the Supreme Court in December and May has pledged to stick to her plan to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which begins the formal process of leaving the EU, by the end of March.