London: Parliament alone has the power to trigger Brexit by notifying Brussels of Downing Street’s intention to leave the European Union, the high court here ruled on Thursday.
The judgment, delivered by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, is likely to slow the pace of Britain’s departure from the EU and is a huge setback for Theresa May, who had insisted the government alone would decide when to trigger the process, the Guardian reported.
The Lord Chief Justice said that “the most fundamental rule of the UK Constitution is that parliament is sovereign”.
The decision is, however, likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court, where space has been cleared in the justices’ schedules for a hearing early next month.
By handing responsibility for initiating Brexit over to members of parliament, the three senior judges — Lord Thomas; the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, and Lord Justice Sales — have ventured on to constitutionally untested ground.
The decision may undermine the Prime Minister’s authority in conducting negotiations with other EU states in the run-up to Britain’s withdrawal.