U.K. Parliament Must Vote on Brexit, Supreme Court Confirms

Credit: Getty / Ian Forsyth
A slight majority of Brits voted in favor of the Brexit this summer.

The ruling follows an early November high court decision that was seen as a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May.

The U.K. Supreme Court has confirmed a high court decision that the government can't trigger negotiations to leave the European Union without a vote from the British parliament.

The early November high court ruling was seen as a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May as she had planned to launch the EU exit process without a parliamentary vote. Her government appealed the decision, but lost out on Tuesday. Observers have since been discussing since last year when May can trigger the so-called Article 50, which begins a two-year window for exit negotiations.

Tuesday's Supreme Court decision confirms a parliamentary vote is needed. May has argued that this won't affect her timetable and that she would get  official consent from the parliament. Observers have said that lawmakers could, however, add amendments to influence the U.K.'s reworked relationship with the EU.

Following the November court decision, some observers immediately expressed hope that the news could derail the Brexit plan. But others said, with a slight majority of voters having decided in favor of the British exit from the EU this summer, lawmakers would likely back the move in a parliamentary vote, meaning that the involvement of parliament would mostly draw out the process.

May's government tried to stop the vote via its appeal, on which the country's Supreme Court had to rule. The appeal was heard by 11 judges of the Supreme Court in a process that started last month.

One of them, Brenda Hale, recently had said that the EU referendum was not legally binding, something that all parties in the dispute have accepted.

In the late June EU referendum, 51.8 percent voted in favor of the Brexit. Turnout reached 71.8 percent of voters, with more than 30 million people participating.

Results differed across the various parts of the U.K. England and Wales supported the Brexit, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted in favor of remaining in the EU. That has led to talk about a possible new independence referendum in Scotland.

In England, London had a clear majority voting in favor of staying in the EU. The city has many financial companies, some of which have started thinking about possibly moving their European headquarters to Frankfurt or other cities inside the EU following the Brexit.

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