Three senior judges at London’s High Court have ruled that British Prime Minister Theresa May will need to seek approval from parliament before beginning the UK exit from the European Union — a decision that will delay Brexit significantly but likely won’t stop it from happening.
The decision, taken on Thursday morning, will add to the confusion among the markets about exactly what is going to happen post-Brexit. In the immediate aftermath of the ruling, the price of sterling against the dollar rose sharply to $1.245, according to CNBC, but fell back just as quickly to $1.24, though still slightly up on the opening price of $1.23.
In the context of the drop in the value of the pound since the June Brexit vote, the spike is almost insignificant:
While the ruling is being seen as a victory for those who voted to remain in the EU, the reality is that Brexit is still going to happen, but now it’s going to take a lot longer. The government has already said it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, with a court date in early December likely. If the Supreme Court is unable to reach a verdict on the matter, it will have to transfer it to the European Court of Justice.
If the decision is upheld, the government will need to gain the approval of parliament for any Brexit decisions it negotiates with Europe — a process that could delay the departure indefinitely.
The prime minister had been hoping to trigger Article 50 by March of next year — or even earlier — but could now face a long-drawn-out debate over each detail as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU.
Some politicians have welcomed the ruling. Labour MP Kerry McCarthy, for one, said: “We are a parliamentary democracy & only right that UK parliament has a say.” Others have strongly criticized it: “How dare these activist judges attempt to overturn our will? It’s a power grab & undermines democracy,” Suzanne Evans, a UKIP member and candidate for its leadership, said on Twitter:
London-based investment manager Gina Miller, who has led the legal case against the government, called on May not to appeal the judgement and instead “press forward and have a proper debate in our sovereign parliament.”