Theresa May Must Consult Parliament To Initiate Brexit

Theresa May Must Consult Parliament To Initiate Brexit
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The British Supreme Court has ruled that the Prime Minister must seek approval from parliament before initiating negotiations to leave the European Union (EU).

This decision has affirmed the earlier High Court ruling and, is a setback for Prime Minister Theresa May, who intends to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the bloc by the end of March this year.

The UK’s 11 most senior judges voted by eight to three to reject the government’s appeal against the earlier ruling.  In his judgment, the presiding judge, Lord David Neuberger has stated that the act of parliament establishing the referendum to leave the EU did not say what should happen as a result.

“Any change in the law to give effect to the referendum must be made in the only way permitted by the UK constitution, namely by an act of parliament,” he said.

“To proceed otherwise will be a breach of settled constitutional principles stretching back many centuries.”

The ruling means May must put forward legislation to initiate Brexit to MPs for approval, a vote she would almost certainly succeed in passing as the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is expected to order his MPs to vote in support of it.

Corbyn has also reacted to the decision on Monday, saying that his party “respects the result of the referendum and the will of the British people and will not frustrate the process for invoking Article 50”.

A spokesperson for the government said it would be setting out its next steps shortly but insisted there would be no changes to the current timetable for Brexit.

“The British people voted to leave the EU, and the government will deliver on their verdict; triggering Article 50, as planned, by the end of March. Today’s ruling does nothing to change that,” the spokesperson said.

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister said the Government’s commitment to meet a March deadline for triggering Article 50 provided “welcome certainty” ahead of Brexit negotiations.

Charlie Flanagan said Ireland had been preparing for Brexit long ahead of the ruling, in which eight of 11 Supreme Court judges agreed both the Commons and the Lords must approve before the two-year process of leaving the EU can begin.

He said: “I welcome the confirmation from the UK Government that it will proceed with the triggering of Article 50 by the end of March at the latest. This provides welcome certainty for the beginning of the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

In Germany, an editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warned “Britain will leave the EU” regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, although other newspapers suggested Brexit could be delayed.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas remained bullish about the prospects of a fast trade deal being negotiated once Article 50 has been triggered.

Mr. Schinas told reporters in Brussels the full terms of a withdrawal agreement – including any amount the UK would have to pay Brussels for its existing liabilities – would have to take priority.

“If one wants to divorce but to remain friends on the basis of a new relationship, first one needs to agree on the terms of the orderly separation,” he said.

 

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