LONDON: The British government has vowed to appeal a High Court ruling that it must seek parliament’s approval before starting EU exit talks, in a landmark judgment that could delay Brexit.
Three senior judges ruled on Thursday that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government does not have the power on its own to trigger Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, the formal notification of Britain’s intention to leave the bloc.
May has promised to begin the process by the end of March but the court’s decision raises the prospect of a protracted parliamentary debate before then, in a chamber that overwhelmingly opposed Brexit and may seek to soften the break with the EU.
The pound — which has tumbled to multi-year lows since June’s referendum to leave the EU — soared against the dollar and euro, standing at $1.2474 in Asian trade on Friday.
EU leaders have been pressing for a swift divorce, and May has arranged a phone call with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday, a commission spokesman said.
The case challenged the government’s right to use “historic prerogative powers” — a type of executive privilege — to trigger Article 50, which begins a two-year countdown to exiting the EU.
“We hold that the secretary of state does not have power under the crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50… for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union,” the judgment said.
May’s office said it was “disappointed” at the decision and would appeal, with the case now expected to be heard in the Supreme Court in early December.
“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,” it said in a statement.
A spokeswoman added: “Our plans remain to invoke Article 50 by the end of March.”