ON JANUARY 24 2017, THE SUPREME COURT, PRESIDED BY LORD NEUBERGER, RULED THAT THE UK GOVERNMENT CANNOT SERVE NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL FROM THE UNION PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 50 OF THE EUROPEAN UNION TREATY WITHOUT FIRST OBTAINING A PARLIAMENTARY VOTE. EIGHT JUDGES OF THE SUPREME COURT WERE IN FAVOUR OF SUCH DECISION, AND THREE DISSENTED.

This means that Theresa May cannot begin negotiations with the Union until the matter has been put to a parliamentary vote, which should be scheduled for no later than March 31st, the date the Prime Minister has for some time indicated as being the deadline for serving the notice of withdrawal.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment (available at the following LINK), also found that the devolved assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have no right to be consulted on Brexit.

The activists claimed in the proceedings that to deny Parliament a vote on Brexit would violate democratic principles, while the Government always maintained that it had powers to serve a notice of withdrawal under article 50 without consulting Parliament, since this was a Crown prerogative which, according to the current constitutional arrangements, is exercisable by the Government.

The Advocate General, Jeremy Wright, on behalf of the Government, said he is “disappointed” and will do all that is necessary to avoid going against the judgment. The Minister for Brexit, David Davis will make a speech in Parliament on the matter next Tuesday.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, stated that his party respected the result of the referendum and the will of the British people and will not obstacle the formal notice to trigger Brexit.

But Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that he will vote in favour of another referendum against Brexit.

For further information, see the press release of the Supreme Court, at the following LINK.