High Court throws Brexit trigger into confusion

The High Court has ruled that parliament must approve the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before it is invoked, a decision the government plan to appeal.

High Court rules parliament must approve Brexit decision
The UK government's Brexit strategy was thrown into chaos on Thursday after the High Court ruled ministers must get the approval of parliament before triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the process of leaving the European Union.Despite June's referendum majority for leaving the EU, the court agreed with a legal challenge from campaigners that Prime Minister Theresa May could not simply invoke Article 50 – as she planned to do by the end of next March – but must achieve parliamentary approval first. 

Government will appeal ruling

The government immediately announced it would appeal the ruling to the country's Supreme Court, which is expected to hear the case in December.Norman Smith, the BBC's assistant political editor, said that if the court's decision were not overturned, there could be "months and months" of delays while the government negotiated a host of parliamentary hurdles.A government spokesman said, "The government is disappointed by the court's judgment. The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by Act of Parliament. And the government is determined to respect the result of the referendum." The court made it clear it was not making a political judgment but was purely taking a decision based on the principle of the supremacy of parliament.

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Parliament must vote in favour of Article 50

Jacqueline Kendal, senior associate at solicitors Rosling King, commented, "The court has upheld an application brought against the government, and held that the government does not have prerogative power to invoke Article 50 without a vote by parliament."In other words, parliament needs to vote in favour of doing so before Article 50 is invoked, thereby allowing the UK to leave the EU. Theresa May (or, more probably, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union) cannot invoke it without parliament's approval."This is going to be very difficult as the majority of MPs believe that remaining in the EU is in the UK’s best interests, although some have indicated that despite their privately held beliefs, they will follow the decision of the referendum. Certainly, putting the matter to a parliamentary vote will heighten tensions.“This is possibly the most important constitutional case of the century."

A Brexit that works for Britain

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said, "This ruling underlines the need for the government to bring its negotiating terms to parliament without delay."Labour respects the decision of the British people to leave the European Union, but there must be transparency and accountability to parliament on the terms of Brexit. Labour will be pressing the case for a Brexit that works for Britain, putting jobs, living standards and the economy first." Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said he feared that "a betrayal may now be near at hand", warning he had "a distinct feeling" that the political classes "do not accept the June 23 referendum result". He added, "I now fear that every attempt will be made to block or delay the triggering of Article 50. If this is so, they have no idea of the level of public anger they will provoke."

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Record low interest rates

The court's decision came as the Bank of England kept interest rates on hold and raised its economic forecast for this year and next, but warned of a slump in growth and rising inflation in 2018 as a result of the Brexit vote. The bank's Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to keep rates at the record low 0.25 per cent introduced in August in a bid to stimulate the economy in the wake of the referendum outcome.In its quarterly inflation report, the bank raised its forecast for GDP growth from 2.0 to 2.2 per cent for this year, and from 0.8 per cent to 1.4 per cent in 2017. But for 2018, it reduced the growth forecast from 1.8 to 1.5 per cent and warned of higher unemployment and inflation.Expectations of economic expansion in the second half of this year were boosted by publication of the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the all-important services sector, which showed output growing in October at its fastest pace in five years.The PMI reached 54.5 in October, up from 52.6 in September and well above analysts' expectations of 52.5. But Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said the picture was somewhat marred by the spectre of rising inflation.For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory   now to our Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre

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