No Brexit without Parliament Stamp of Approval

The High Court in London has ruled that the British Parliament does have the right to vote on whether or not to trigger the mechanism for Britain to leave the EU – against the opinion of the government, which said that  Prime Minister Theresa May had the powers to do so without resorting to a parliamentary vote.

The British voted to leave the European Union at a referendum on June 23 and Theresa May has said that she will formally begin the process of leaving the EU — by invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon — by the end of March.

However, a legal challenge was brought by a businesswoman and others, saying that May did not have the right to push the Brexit button alone, without the British Parliament being given a vote on the matter first.

The High Court ruling, Thursday (November 3) emphatically says it is for the sovereign parliament  and not the Prime Minister Theresa May  to be given the ultimate authority to make the decision over Brexit.

The question, in law, centres on what is known as the “Royal Prerogative”: the ancient power vested in the king or queen to make unilateral decisions over his/her parliament. It dates back centuries to when England was ruled by Kings and Queens who had total power over their people and there was no parliament as we know it today.

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But a government spokesman announced it would contest the ruling, saying: “The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by Act of Parliament. And the government is determined to respect the result of the referendum. We will appeal this judgment.”


Government lawyers had argued that prerogative powers were a legitimate way to give effect “to the will of the people”.

But the Lord Chief Justice declared: “The government does not have power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the UK to withdraw from the European Union.”

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said, if the court’s decision was not overturned, there could be “months and months” of parliamentary hurdles ahead.

There needed to be “clarity” on whether there would be a “short, sharp” vote or Parliament would have to consider complex legislation, he added.

But he said most MPs would be likely to vote for Article 50, as Brexit had been backed by a majority of voters in the referendum.