OFFICIAL: Britain's parliament can block Brexit

Gina MillerGina Miller / LinkedinLondon-based Investment manager Gina Miller was the lead claimant in the historic legal case.

The British High Court just ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May MUST get parliamentary approval before invoking Article 50.

Shortly after 10:00 a.m. (GMT), three of the country’s most senior judges, including Lord Chief Justice John Thomas, ruled that May is legally required to to pass an act of parliament before initiating Britain’s formal withdrawal from the European Union.  

A spokesperson for the government confirmed that it will be appealing the decision, which means the case will be transferred to the Supreme Court in December this year. It will be the first time the Supreme Court will sit in full since its establishment in 2009. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the government said: “The Government is disappointed by the Court’s judgment.

“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.”

Ironically, if the Supreme Court is unable to reach a verdict on the government’s appeal, it is obliged to transfer the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the European Union’s highest court. 

This was the High Court’s official conclusion:

“The Court does not accept the argument put forward by the Government. There is nothing in the text of the 1972 Act to support it. In the judgment of the Court the argument is contrary both to the language used by the Parliament in the 1972 Act and to the fundamental constitutional principles of the sovereignty of Parliament and the absence of any entitlement on the part of the Crown to change domestic law by the exercise of its prerogative powers. The Court expressly accepts the principle argument of the claimants.

“For the reasons set out in the judgment, we decide that 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.”

The landmark ruling comes two weeks after the London court spent three days hearing arguments from barristers representing multiple claimants and government lawyers, including Attorney General Jeremy Wright. 

The government had argued that it can use royal prerogative to invoke Article 50, an archaic privilege which allows UK government to take an action without first referring to parliament. 

Lord Pannick QC, who was representing lead claimant Gina Miller, who BI interviewed in August, argued strongly that triggering Article 50 will mean statutory rights enjoyed by Brits as EU citizens — like the right to vote to in EU elections and refer a legal dispute to the European Court of Justice — will be destroyed in an instant.

May intends to trigger Article 50 no later than March next year, but this deadline could prove difficult to meet if either of the legislative houses delay the process. Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor at The Times, reports that some MPs and Lords will refuse to support the act of parliament if the government doesn’t disclose the details of its Brexit negotiating position. 

Nigel Farage, the staunch Brexiteer who played a big part in campaigning for Leave, released a statement shortly after saying he feared parliamentarians will use the verdict to delay or even block Brexit. 

In an email sent to BI, the current UK Independence Party leader said: 

“I worry that a betrayal may be near at hand. Last night at the Spectator Parliamentary Awards I had a distinct feeling that our political class, who were out in force, do not accept the 23rd of June Referendum result. 

“I now fear that every attempt will be made to block or delay the triggering of Article 50. If this is so, they have no idea of the level of public anger they will provoke.”

The pound took off immediately after the news broke, climbing more than 1.2% against the dollar almost instantaneously.

This is a developing story…

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