Par­lia­ment to have vote on Brexit

Law­mak­ers to get chance to hin­der plans to leave EU

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

BRI­TISH Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May must give Par­lia­ment a vote be­fore she can for­mally start Bri­tain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union, the UK Supreme Court ruled yes­ter­day, giv­ing law­mak­ers who op­pose her Brexit plans a chance to amend or hin­der them.

By a ma­jor­ity of eight to three, the Supreme Court de­cided May could not use ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers known as “royal pre­rog­a­tive” to in­voke Ar­ti­cle 50 of the EU’s Lis­bon Treaty and be­gin two years of di­vorce talks.

“The Supreme Court to­day rules that the gov­ern­ment can­not trig­ger Ar­ti­cle 50 with­out an act of Par­lia­ment au­tho­ris­ing it to do so,” said Supreme Court Pres­i­dent David Neu­berger.

How­ever, the judges did re­move one ma­jor po­ten­tial ob­sta­cle, say­ing May did not need the ap­proval of the UK’s de­volved as­sem­blies in Scot­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land be­fore trig­ger­ing Brexit.

May has said she in­tended in­vok­ing Ar­ti­cle 50 be­fore the end of March, but the rul­ing means she must bring leg­is­la­tion be­fore Par­lia­ment be­fore she can go ahead.

That opens up the Brexit process to scru­tiny from law­mak­ers, the ma­jor­ity of whom had wanted to stay in the EU. How­ever, the main op­po­si­tion Labour Party said it would not block Brexit although it would try to amend the leg­is­la­tion.

“Labour will seek to build in the prin­ci­ples of full, tar­iff-free ac­cess to the sin­gle mar­ket and main­te­nance of work­ers’ rights and so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions,” said party leader Jeremy Cor­byn.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Jeremy Wright, the gov­ern­ment’s top lawyer who ar­gued its case, said min­is­ters would im­ple­ment the court’s rul­ing.

“Of course the gov­ern­ment is dis­ap­pointed with the out­come,” Wright said out­side the Supreme Court. “The gov­ern­ment will com­ply with the judg­ment of the court and do all that is nec­es­sary to im­ple­ment it.”

May said the de­ci­sion did noth­ing to change the path of Brexit.

“The Bri­tish peo­ple voted to leave the EU, and the gov­ern­ment will de­liver on their ver­dict – trig­ger­ing Ar­ti­cle 50, as planned, by the end of March,” her spokesman said.

Last week, May set out her stall for ne­go­ti­a­tions, promis­ing a clean break with the world’s largest trad­ing bloc as part of a 12-point plan to fo­cus on global free trade deals, set­ting a course for a so-called “hard Brexit”.

Some in­vestors and those who backed the “re­main” cam­paign hope that law­mak­ers, most of whom wanted to stay in the EU, will force May to seek a deal which pri­ori­tises ac­cess to the Euro­pean sin­gle mar­ket of 500 mil­lion peo­ple, or po­ten­tially even block Brexit al­to­gether.

Ster­ling ini­tially rose on the news that the gov­ern­ment had lost its ap­peal, but it then fell over half a cent to hit day’s lows against the dol­lar and euro after the rul­ing that the de­volved as­sem­blies did not need to give their as­sent. By 10.22am (lo­cal time), it had trimmed some of those losses and stood at $1.2485 (R16), down 0.4% on the day.

PIC­TURE: EPA

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

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