Brexit passes back into the realms of politics

The government has lost its appeal at the UK Supreme Court in the Article 50 case, which means triggering Brexit requires parliamentary approval in the form of an act of parliament.

The court was asked for a “declaration” as to whether prime minister Theresa May can use the so-called “royal prerogative” to formally commence the process for Britain to leave the EU. The ruling, by a majority of eight to three, was the second possible outcome I outlined in my earlier post, which means the earlier High Court is upheld and Theresa May has to bring a bill before parliament.

Though there is little doubt that the bill will ultimately pass in the House of Commons, there are issues as to whether it could be delayed by MPs or the House of Lords. Keeping the March deadline would still be possible, but it would be outside the government’s direct control.

The court was unanimous, however, that the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have no formal role, either a veto or a right to be consulted.
Had the UK government just accepted the defeat in the High Court in November and got on with Brexit with a bill, it would now probably be an act. Mrs May only has herself to blame for any delays.

This is the end of the road for this case. There is no further appeal. The legal issue of whether the notification is revocable is still open, and there is possible forthcoming litigation on this. But, subject to such further cases, the government’s defeat today means that Brexit passes back into the realms of politics and policy from the realm of constitutional law.

Further updates to follow…

This post originally appeared on Financial Times

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