The Pro-Brexit hardliners now in charge of the UK government suffered a bit of a set back in its quest to exit the European Union. Prime Minister Theresa May had been trying to avoid what could potentially be a messy parliamentary battle over the pending withdrawal. Many in the British parliament wish to remain in the European Union.
The High Court recognized the British parliament as the sovereign, and as the legal body that can make and undo laws. From the High Court’s point of view, since membership in the European Union has been signed into law, then parliament should have a say in any efforts to unwind the law.
As a result, the British parliament could actually block efforts to leave the European Union. Some who have hoped that Brexit would be called off have been looking to the British parliament to block the withdrawal. The Brexit vote was quite narrow, with 52% voting to leave and 48% voting to stay. Thus, it seems possible, though unlikely, that parliament could decide to block the move.
Regardless, Prime Minister May plans to push forward with her efforts to trigger Article 50. This article stems from the Lisbon Treaty of the European Union and lays out the process countries can take to withdraw from the European Union. Once triggered, it could take up to two years to withdraw.
The United Kingdom has a lot of issues to sort out, both internally and with the European Union. For the EU’s part, leaders have made it clear that they won’t begin formal and in-depth discussions until Article 50 is triggered. Now, the Court’s ruling could slow down the process for triggering the article.
Prime Minister May has been aiming to start talks by the end of March. This means that Article 50 would need to be triggered before then. The High Court, however, has ruled that the government could not unilaterally trigger Article 50. Instead the British parliament needs to be involved.
The government will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, which will review the decision from December 5th to 8th. It remains unclear what exactly will have to happen, should the Supreme Court uphold the decision.
Soft Brexit On The Menu?
Some people, and especially business owners and managers, are hoping that the British parliament’s involvement could stave off the push for a hard exit. Many are hoping that the United Kingdom will retain access to Europe’s common market. In order to do so, however, the UK would have to accept freedom of movement.
Yet freedom of movement was one of the biggest issues for pro-Brexit voters. Many British voters want tighter control over their borders. This has become an especially major issue with Europe currently being inundated with refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.
Now that the British parliament may be involved in the process, it might pave the way for a soft Brexit. Under this scenario, the United Kingdom would negotiate with the EU to try to retain access to the common market. In exchange, the EU would probably demand freedom of movement and other concessions.