As has been widely reported, the High Court today handed down its judgment on the question of whether, as a matter of constitutional law, HM Government is entitled to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by virtue of the Royal Prerogative or whether it needs to obtain Parliamentary approval before doing so. The full judgment and a summary is available on the judiciary.gov.uk website.
Despite the usual media hysteria, for constitutional lawyers, and certainly for anyone who had read the pleadings and arguments of each side before the hearing and/or followed the hearing itself, this was very much the anticipated decision. The Court was clearly very sceptical of the arguments advanced by the Attorney General on behalf of the Secretary of State.
The Government has said it will appeal the decision, which, as previously arranged, will be heard by the Supreme Court in early December. Unless the Secretary of State can find a more convincing legal basis to oppose the action, it would be surprising if the Supreme Court comes to a very different conclusion.
While that may therefore mean that it would be technically possible for Parliament to withhold consent to the triggering of Article 50, whether that is politically likely may prove to be a very different matter.
The current legal wrangle is certainly interesting for students of constitutional law, not least as a case study of the interplay between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary in the famously unwritten British constitution. Ultimately, however, it is unclear whether the litigation will have any practical impact on the course of the Brexit negotiations (except potentially to delay them) or the terms of settlement.
As ever, it is really about the politics, not the legals.