High Court rules that Theresa May cannot trigger Brexit process without approval from parliament

updated on 03 November 2016

The High Court has ruled that only parliament has the power to trigger the Brexit process in a setback for the government, which is fighting for the power to begin Brexit without having to ask MPs for approval through a vote.

Prime Minister Theresa May had insisted that only she and her government would decide when to trigger article 50 of the treaty on European Union, which is the process a member state has to go through if it wants to leave. However, a legal challenge brought by businessperson Gina Miller has led to a ruling in the High Court, where judges led by the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, ruled that the power to trigger Brexit rests with parliament, not Theresa May.

Although at time of writing the government is expected to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court, and while there is little suggestion that parliament will seriously attempt to prevent Brexit, the ruling will slow down the process.

Speaking after the ruling, Miller said: “It was the right decision because we were dealing with the sovereignty of parliament. It was not about winning or losing. It was about what was right. Now we can move forward with legal certainty.”