British Prime Minister Theresa May will open discussions to formally trigger Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) without holding a parliamentary vote on Brexit.
May will invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on EU without a vote in Parliament, the Telegraph reported on Friday. Article 50 is the two-year formal process for the exit of countries from the EU.
Brexit opponents maintain that since the EU referendum result is advisory, it should be passed by a vote in the House of Commons before the formal process is triggered, the report said.
The prime minister’s decision will come as a blow to Remain campaigners, who had been hoping to use Parliament to stop Brexit.
“The prime minister has been absolutely clear that the British public have voted and now she will get on with delivering Brexit,” a Downing Street source told the paper.
The majority of lawmakers in the lower house of Parliament, a total of around 480, campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU before the Brexit vote. The upper house, or House of Lords, was also overwhelmingly in favor of Britain staying in the bloc.
This means that obtaining formal parliamentary approval for Brexit could take years or may never happen.
Last week, Owen Smith, the Labour leadership candidate, set out plans to block Article 50 in Parliament. He said he hoped that Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, would support him.
“We will vote in Parliament to block any attempt to invoke Article 50 until Theresa May commits to a second referendum or a general election on whatever the EU exit deal emerges at the end of the process. I hope Jeremy will support me in such a move.”
A group of lawyers has initiated a legal challenge in an attempt to force May to hold a parliamentary vote. The case, which will be heard in the High Court in October, argues that Article 50 cannot be invoked until the European Communities Act of 1972 is revoked.
However, government lawyers are confident that they will win, allowing for Article 50 to be triggered at the beginning of next year, which could see the UK leave the EU in 2019.