UK court says parliament must have Brexit say, dealing blow to gov’t
LONDONEngland’s High Court ruled on Nov. 3 that the British government requires parliamentary approval to trigger the process of exiting the European Union, upsetting Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans.
The government said it would appeal against the decision and a spokeswoman for May said the prime minister would press ahead with the planned timetable of launching talks on the terms of Brexit by the end of March.
The pound rose on the court’s ruling, hitting a three-week high against the dollar. Many investors took the view that lawmakers would temper the government’s policies and make an economically disruptive “hard Brexit” less likely.
“We hold that the Secretary of State does not have power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50... for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union,” the judgement said.
“The most fundamental rule of the U.K.’s constitution is that parliament is sovereign and can make and unmake any law it chooses,” said Lord Chief Justice John Thomas, England’s most senior judge.
Thomas and two other senior judges did not spell out what action the government needed to take. They also did not say whether it would need to pass a new law to trigger the divorce proceedings, which could face opposition and amendments from both houses of parliament, particularly the House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber.
In theory, parliament could block Brexit altogether. But few people expect that outcome, given that the British people voted by 52 to 48 percent to leave the EU in a referendum in June.
However, the ruling makes the already daunting task of taking Britain out of a club it joined 43 years ago even more complex. It also puts at risk May’s March deadline triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the formal step needed to start the process of exiting the bloc.
“The government is disappointed by the court’s judgment,” trade minister Liam Fox told parliament. “The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by acts of parliament. The government is determined to respect the result of the referendum.”
Making clear the government planned to stick to its timetable, the spokeswoman for May said: “Our plan remains to invoke Article 50 by the end of March, we believe the legal timetable should allow