24 January, 2017
The Supreme Court by a majority of 8 to 3 has ruled that an Act of Parliament is required to authorise ministers to give Notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union. Following the ruling the Attorney General has confirmed that the government will comply with the judgment of the court and do all that is necessary to implement it.
Government ministers had argued that the referendum gave the government the authority to commence the exit from the EU and had intended to trigger Article 50 using the Royal Prerogative. That would have meant the government could have triggered Article 50 at their choosing. The government must now specifically pass a Bill through Parliament. The passage through Parliament often takes months, but it is expected that the government will use Emergency legislation to speed up the process.
A spokesperson from Number 10 remarked "The British people voted to leave the EU and the government will deliver on their verdict - triggering article 50, as planned, by the end of March. Today's ruling does nothing to change that…..We respect the supreme court's decision, and will set out our next steps to parliament shortly."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already commented "Labour respects the result of the referendum and the will of the British people and will not frustrate the process for invoking Article 50". Therefore the bill is unlikely to meet significant opposition in the House of Commons. Whilst many of the peers in the House of Lords oppose Brexit, it is likely that as unelected house they will ultimately resist the temptation to thwart the bill.