Parliament Has to Make ‘Brexit’ Official, Says the United Kingdom Supreme Court

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Theresa May. Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

About a week after British prime minister Theresa May laid out plans for breaking up with Europe, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court finalized one key aspect of ‘Brexit’: Parliament has to vote before the process can begin.

The judges upheld, 8–3, a November decision by a lower court that said the British government must get the approval of MPs before triggering Article 50, the part of the Lisbon Treaty that starts the two-year process of negotiating an exit from the European Union. May has said she wants to start the U.K.’s leave from the EU by March 31 of this year, leaving her two months to secure votes for such legislation in Parliament

The Supreme Court’s decision will not stop the Brexit process. Even those in the “Stay” camp have said they will honor the results of the referendum, where the people voted, 52–48, to leave the European Union last June. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the party “respects the result of the referendum and the will of the British people and will not frustrate the process for invoking Article 50.” But, he added, he was going to fight for more favorable terms for constituents, including seeking “to build in the principles of full, tariff-free access to the single market” — something May had said was not an option.

The Supreme Court did rule that the British government won’t need the approval of regional legislatures in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, which is a win for the May government. Still the Scottish National Party (which doesn’t want to leave the E.U.) has vowed to put forward 50 amendments to the Brexit bill, and has already called for another independence referendum saying it was not being “heard” within the United Kingdom.

Representatives for the May government said that this Supreme Court ruling wouldn’t delay the timetable for exit — that March 31 date – and that the government is going to introduce an Article 50 bill “within days.

U.K. Supreme Court: Parliament Has to Make ‘Brexit’ Official