24 January 2017
Government loses Supreme Court battle over Brexit
The process of Brexit cannot go ahead without the approval of Parliament, Britain's highest court has announced.
By a majority of eight to three, the court has ruled that an act of Parliament is required under the UK constitution to proceed with triggering Article 50.
In a summary statement at 9:30am on Tuesday, the Supreme Court president, Lord Neuberger, announced that although the Government has a prerogative power to withdraw from international treaties, it does not have the power to use the royal prerogative to start the two-year process of negotiating Brexit without the prior authority of Parliament.
In response, Attorney General Jeremy Wright has said the Government is "disappointed" by the Supreme Court ruling but will comply with it.
The ruling now means a delay as MPs are given a vote on starting the divorce from the EU.
Lord Neuberger has also announced that the UK government is not legally compelled to consult the devolved governments on the process of triggering Article 50, namely the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The ruling supports the decision by the High Court judges who rejected the Government's case on November 3.
Eleven justices - a record number to hear an appeal - listened to four days of detailed legal argument in December. The proceedings were streamed on the Supreme Court website and broadcast on television, becoming the most televised UK case ever.
The appeal judgment has no bearing on the outcome of the referendum.
"Although today’s judgment from the Supreme Court is not unexpected, it does create yet more ambiguity around the nature of Brexit and calls into question whether the Government’s preferred trigger timeframes can be adhered to, even if there is a broad consensus that MPs will not seek to frustrate the process.
"Until Article 50 it is triggered, negotiations cannot begin and the current impasse will continue. For employers and employees alike, the desired and necessary clarity about the future of EU nationals will be further delayed.
"Employers and their employees should therefore consider the options available to them to formalise their immigration status."