LONDON, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 24th Jan, 2017 ) - The British government must win parliament's approval before starting talks to leave the EU, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, in a landmark judgement and setback for Prime Minister Theresa May. The legal case has revived divisions within British society after last June's referendum which saw 52 percent vote to leave the EU after a bitter campaign that split the country. May had wanted to start the process of leaving the European Union -- invoking Article 50 of the treaty -- without a vote in parliament, but she failed to overturn a High Court ruling that said MPs must be consulted.
"The Supreme Court rules that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of parliament authorising it to do so," Supreme Court president David Neuberger said in London. A majority of the 11 judges agreed that withdrawing from the EU meant there would have to be changes to Britain's domestic laws, and therefore national parliament had to be involved, he said. The government, which lost the original case in November, had argued that it enjoyed executive powers to withdraw from international treaties.
While Tuesday's ruling was a blow to the prime minister, the judges also said lawmakers in semi-autonomous Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales had no legal right to be consulted in the process. May's government insisted "nothing" would change the timetable for starting the formal procedure for leaving the EU by the end of March and promised draft legislation "within days". The main opposition Labour party and the Scottish National Party (SNP) have said they will table amendments to any government legislation to start Brexit, which could potentially cause a delay. Brexit minister David Davis defiantly said that the government would put "straightforward" legislation authorising May to initiate Brexit "swiftly". "I trust no-one will seek to make it a vehicle for attempts to thwart the will of the people or frustrate or delay the process," he warned MPs.