How British Politics Reacted to the Supreme Court Ruling on Brexit
The U.K. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Theresa May needs parliamentary approval to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism that starts Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
This means the prime minister will have to introduce a bill, which could be amended by other lawmakers. Both parliamentary chambers will have a vote. Although it’s unlikely MPs will block Brexit, the judgment could slow down May’s self-imposed deadline of starting the process by the end of March.
Here's what the major players in this fight say they'll do next.
Jeremy Wright, the attorney general, was one of the first to respond. He said that while the government was “disappointed” with the result, it would “comply with the judgment of the court.”
Speaking to reporters later, a spokesman for the prime minister said: “This ruling does nothing to change the timetable” for triggering article 50. David Davis, May's point man on Brexit, said there were plans to introduce Article 50 legislation “within days.”
The Labour Party
Members of the main opposition Labour Party are divided on how to tackle a parliamentary vote. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Labour will “seek to amend” the bill to ensure British lawmakers have a “meaningful vote” on May’s negotiations. The hope is that the amendment would let MPs block a deal they believe is not in the national interest.
But John Mann, a Labour party backbencher, predicted there would be a vote on the bill next week and said he believed it would pass with a “huge majority.”
The Rest of the U.K.
One group May won't have to worry about immediately: The Scottish parliament, as well as the local governing bodies in Wales and Northern Ireland. The court ruled that they don’t have to be consulted. But the Scottish National Party, which has 54 of 49 MPs north of the border, said it plans to bring forward no less than 50 amendments to the bill.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, added that she was dismayed by the ruling and warned that the country should consider “[taking] our future into our own hands.”
The Lib Dems, a minority party that was badly defeated in the most recent elections, only have nine MPs, but leader Tim Farron said the party wants another public vote on the final deal.
The Lead Claimant
Gina Miller, the lead claimant on the Article 50 case, said the Supreme Court ruled on a constitutional matter. “No prime minister, no government can expect to be unanswerable or unchallenged,” she said. “Parliament alone is sovereign.”
The pound stumbled as investors bet the ruling would do nothing to stop Britain from leaving the European Union.