The British government’s plan for exiting the European Union was thrown into uncertainty on Thursday after the High Court delivered a defeat to Prime Minister Theresa May by ruling that she must seek parliamentary approval before starting the process to leave the bloc.
The court’s decision seemed likely to slow — but not halt — the process for a British withdrawal from the 28-nation union, a decision approved by nearly 52 percent of voters in a June 23 referendum.
Mrs. May had insisted that the government could invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism for leaving the European Union, without a vote by Parliament. She immediately vowed to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which is to hear the appeal in December.
Mrs. May’s Conservative Party holds only a slim majority, with 329 seats in the 650-seat Parliament. Although most lawmakers opposed the decision to leave the European Union, it would be politically toxic for them to overturn the referendum outcome.
Maybe. The Ruling Class does not take lightly any challenge to its dictatorial authority. As long as peasants can amuse themselves with the trappings of democracy, but don’t do any real damage to the “European Project,” it’s content. But let the unwashed chuck a spanner in the works, then look out:
The government and its legal challengers agree that invoking Article 50, which Mrs. May has promised to do by the end of March, is an irrevocable step on the road to a British withdrawal, commonly known as Brexit. Her spokesman maintained on Thursday that it was still possible to begin the process by that time.
Although Parliament approved holding the referendum, Mrs. May’s critics argued in court that failing to give Parliament a voice in the matter before the application to leave the European Union would turn lawmakers into bystanders as Britain negotiated its disengagement from the bloc after more than four decades of membership. They also pointed out that, technically, the referendum is not legally binding.
The government had dismissed the case as legal “camouflage,” dismissing it as a thinly disguised effort to frustrate the democratic outcome of the June 23 referendum.
Many observers say that, were the decision to trigger Article 50 put to Parliament, lawmakers would probably approve it, even though a clear majority opposed leaving the bloc when the referendum was held.
Despite that fact, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to hold the referendum, making it politically difficult to fail to honor its outcome.
In other words, Parliament can overturn the referendum and keep Britain in the EU, if it so chooses. Enjoy!