Brexit Challenge Ruling to Be Released Thursday, Court Says

  • Ruling on Article 50 challenge take 30 minutes, judges say
  • Losing side is likely to appeal to U.K.’s Supreme Court

A panel of senior judges will rule Thursday morning on a challenge to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan, putting the case on track to reach the Supreme Court before she begins Britain’s exit from the European Union early next year.

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The ruling will be issued in London at 10 a.m. and will take about 30 minutes, a court spokesman said by e-mail Wednesday. The losing side will probably begin an appeal to be heard at the Supreme Court in December.

May wants control over how and when the country leaves Europe. Challengers including investment start-up founder Gina Miller and hairdresser Deir Dos Santos say May must initiate a vote in Parliament before she can trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which begins a two-year countdown to Brexit.

A defeat for the government "would throw the whole deck of cards back up in the air," said Robert Thomas, a law professor at Manchester University. "There’s a majority in the House of Lords that is in favor of remaining in the EU, so that would introduce so much more uncertainty if Parliament gets to vote."

Investors have looked to the lawsuit to delay the process amid concerns that May is prioritizing immigration controls over safeguards for trade and banking. A loss at the Supreme Court would force May to pursue a vote in Parliament, where most members of the House of Commons were in favor of remaining in the EU before the June 23 referendum.

"With the U.K. not in recession, it is hard to see what pressure MPs are under to ignore the result of the referendum," said Jordan Rochester, a foreign-exchange strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc. So while the pound “would rally on such a headline, we would have to remember Article 50 could still pass a Commons vote."

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