The government of UK Prime Minister Theresa May says it will challenge a High Court ruling that has stipulated that the country cannot leave the European Union without the permission of the British Parliament.
Three senior judges ruled on Thursday that Parliament, not the government alone, can trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the formal process for beginning Brexit.
The ruling means May would not be able to trigger Article 50 without parliamentary approval. She had planned to start the process by March 2017 and bring it to completion in two years.
British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis said on Thursday 17.4 million Leave voters had given the government “the biggest mandate in history” during a referendum in June to leave the 28-nation bloc.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear the government’s appeal in December.
“The judges have laid out what we can’t do, and not exactly what we can do, but we’re presuming that it requires an act of parliament and therefore both Commons and Lords,” he said.
Parliamentarians are not likely to block Brexit outright, given that nearly 52 percent of Britons voted on 23 June to leave the EU.
Prime Minister May’s spokesman said the government was “determined to continue with our plans,” and had “no intention of letting” the ruling “derail Article 50 or the timetable we have set out.”
Investment manager Gina Miller, who brought the case to the High Court, said the premier should make the “wise decision of not appealing” against the High Court ruling.
“The result today is about all of us. It’s not about me or my team. It’s about our United Kingdom and all our futures,” she said.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said Britain should keep its “options open” on whether or not to leave the EU until after Brexit talks with the bloc are completed.
During an interview last week with BBC radio, Blair described the EU referendum as “a catastrophe,” and said UK voters should be given the option of a second EU referendum.
May dismisses talk of early election
May’s ruling Conservative Party holds a slim majority of 329 seats in the 650-seat Parliament. The results of a referendum are not binding, but overturning the decision would severely damage the government’s public image.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson on Thursday alsodismissed talk of an early general election despite the ruling.
Asked about the possibility of an early election in order to increase the Conservatives’ majority in Parliament, the spokesperson said, “No. Our position has been clear that there shouldn’t be an election until 2020 – and that remains the Prime Minister’s view.”
This is while current polls suggest May’s party would return to Parliament with a significantly increased majority as the Labour Party popularity is quite low.