Parliament to get Article 50 vote after Government loses Brexit appeal
The Supreme Court has ruled that Parliament and not ministers must approve the decision for the UK to begin its exit from the European Union.
In a landmark constitutional ruling, the court’s president Lord Neuberger delivered the majority 8-3 verdict denying an appeal by the Government.
The attorney general, Jeremy Wright, has said the government is “disappointed” by the ruling. A further statement by Brexit secretary David Davis is expected in the House of Commons this afternoon.
Gina Miller, one of the campaigners who brought the case, said it “was about the legal process, not politics”.
She said: “Today’s decision has created legal certainty, based on our democratic process and provides the legal foundation for the government to trigger Article 50.”
In a joint judgment of the majority, the Supreme Court held that an Act of Parliament is required to authorise ministers to give notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union.
Lawyers for the Government had argued ministers had the authority to trigger Article 50, of the Treaty on European Union, based on royal prerogative powers.
The judgment on behalf of the eight justices said: “[T]he referendum of 2016 did not change the law in a way which would allow ministers to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union without legislation.
“But that in no way means that it is devoid of effect. It means that, unless and until acted on by Parliament, its force is political rather than legal. It has already shown itself to be of great political significance.”
A spokesperson for Number 10 has said: “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.
“It’s important to remember that Parliament backed the referendum by a margin of six to one and has already indicated its support for getting on with the process of exit to the timetable we have set out.”
In the referendum on June 23, 2016, 17.4m people voted for the UK to leave the European Union, which was 51.9% of the votes cast.
Later in the year the High Court ruled Parliament must approve the use of the Article 50 mechanism, which allows states to leave the European Union.
The judgement followed a four-day hearing in December in front of the 11 Supreme Court justices.