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Parliament ‘must vote on Brexit decision’

Theresa May
Theresa May

A court ruled today that the UK government must vote on the Brexit decision before triggering Article 50 for Britain to leave the EU.

The decision threw Westminster into chaos as it raised more questions than answers, and raised the prospect of the Scottish government having to give its consent for the EU treaty to be unravelled.

The UK government is expected to appeal against the ruling by the Divisional Court, but as it stands the verdict creates an enormous constitutional conundrum for Westminster with some pundits speculating that it might instead trigger a general election.

A spokesman for Number Ten insisted that the Prime Minister Theresa May (pictured) still planned to launch talks on the terms of Brexit by the end of March and added: “We have no intention of letting this derail our timetable.”

The pound, which fell sharply after the vote to leave the EU on 23 June, rose after the ruling as investors took the view it would force the government to soften its policies, particularly the option for a “hard Brexit”.

The pound was up 1.25% against the euro at €1.1217, and 1.18% up on the dollar at $1.244 and the FTSE 100 was 54.91 points lower at the close at 6,790.51.

Nigel Farage, head of UKIP, said that he feared the ruling could turn into an attempt to scupper Brexit altogether.

“I worry that a betrayal may be near at hand,” he said on Twitter and warned that attempts to block or delay triggering Article 50 would anger the British public.

Jacqueline Kendal, senior associate at solicitors Rosling King said:The Divisional Court has upheld an application brought against the government, and held that the government does not have prerogative power to invoke Article 50 without a vote by Parliament.

“In other words, Parliament needs to vote in favour of doing so before Article 50 is invoked, thereby allowing the UK to leave the EU.

“Theresa May (or, more probably, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union) cannot invoke it without Parliament’s approval.

“This is going to be very difficult as the majority of MPs believe that remaining in the EU is in the UK’s best interests, although some have indicated that despite their privately held beliefs they will follow the decision of the referendum. Certainly, putting the matter to a Parliamentary vote will heighten tensions.

“This is possibly the most important constitutional case of the century and the Divisional Court has certified the case as suitable for a ‘leapfrog’ appeal straight to the Supreme Court. Technically the Supreme Court still needs to give permission but there is little doubt over whether they will give it.”

Neil Wilson at ETX Capital, said: “The court ruling has “made triggering Brexit a lot trickier and has given sterling a massive shot in the arm.”


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