British MPs can derail Brexit, rules high court….reports Asian Lite News
Parliament alone has the power to trigger Brexit by notifying Brussels of Downing Street’s intention to leave the European Union, the high court ruled on Thursday.
The judgment, delivered by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, is likely to slow the pace of Britain’s departure from the EU and is a huge setback for Theresa May, who had insisted the government alone would decide when to trigger the process, the Guardian reported.
The Lord Chief Justice said that “the most fundamental rule of the UK Constitution is that parliament is sovereign”.
The decision is, however, likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court, where space has been cleared in the justices’ schedules for a hearing early next month.
By handing responsibility for initiating Brexit over to members of parliament, the three senior judges — Lord Thomas; the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, and Lord Justice Sales — have ventured on to constitutionally untested ground.
The decision may undermine the Prime Minister’s authority in conducting negotiations with other EU states in the run-up to Britain’s withdrawal.
The prime minister’s spokeswoman said she would be calling President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to say she intended to stick to her March 2017 deadline for triggering Article 50, BBC reported.
Amid suggestions that she might call an early election, she added that Mrs May believed “there shouldn’t be an election until 2020 and that remains her view”.
A statement is to be made to MPs on Monday but the government says it has no intention of letting the judgement “derail Article 50 or the timetable we have set out”.
Brexit Secretary David Davis said he presumed the court ruling meant an act of Parliament would be required to trigger Article 50 – so would be subject to approval by both MPs and peers.
But the government was going to contest that view in an appeal, and said the referendum was held only following “a six-to-one vote in the Commons to give the decision to the British people”.
“The people are the ones Parliament represents – 17.4m of them, the biggest mandate in history, voted for us to leave the European Union. We are going to deliver on that mandate in the best way possible for the British national interest,” he told the BBC.