On November 3rd, Britain’s High Court ruled that before the country can leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May must first get approval from Parliament before the process can begin. The Prime Minister had previously said she plans to invoke Article 50, the legal mechanism used for exiting the EU, by the end of March 2017. This new ruling adds another step in the process, and further complicates the Brexit process. The government has appealed the ruling and Britain’s Supreme Court has granted this appeal. The Supreme Court has set aside four days, starting on December 5th, for all eleven Justices to hear the appeal. According to a statement released by the Supreme Court, they will deliver their judgment “probably in the New Year.”
Many pro-Brexit politicians and a majority of the public were unhappy with the High Court’s decision. British voters chose to leave the EU (“Brexit”) earlier this year by a margin of 52% to leave and 48% to stay. While the public had voted by a majority on the referendum to leave, many members in Britain’s Parliament wanted Britain to stay in the EU. The idea that Parliament must now be consulted regarding any exit plans is seen as a blow to the Prime Minister. While it seems unlikely for Parliament to go against the will of the voters by blocking an exit plan, if the ruling stands, Theresa May would be forced to work with Parliament to negotiate a plan. Once Article 50 is triggered, the talks and negotiations will be lengthy and are likely to focus on border control/EU immigration and Britain’s desire to retain access to the EU’s single market.