The High Court has ruled that Parliament must vote on whether Article 50 should be triggered and thus whether the UK can begin the process of leaving the EU.
This decision means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on its own. The decision is likely to delay the Prime Minister’s plans to activate Article 50, which will formally notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave and begin exit-negotiations, by the end of March 2017. The decision has provoked debate on constitutional grounds between Theresa May’s government, who argue that the June referendum means that MPs should not need to vote, and the opposition, who believe it would be unconstitutional to not have a vote in Parliament.
The government is appealing the decision and a further hearing is expected next month.
The other 27 EU member states have said negotiations about the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU cannot begin until Article 50 has been invoked. The court’s decision that Parliament must vote on whether to trigger Article 50 is likely to affect both the schedule and terms of Brexit.
Following the High Court ruling the pound has risen sharply, now up 1.2% at $1.2450, but the FTSE 100 has fallen 0.6% to 6,806 points.
The Wessex Scene will keep you updated as this story develops.