According to the British High Court, the referendum for the United Kingdom to leave the EU was deemed as advisory rather than mandatory. This means that Parliament must hold a vote to allow Brexit.
In theory, the decision could be reversed, seeing that the High Court explained that the government cannot overturn acts which are supposed to be decided upon by the Parliament.
The U.K. leaving the EU would mean that the Parliament would relinquish the rights it granted Brits by voting to join the EU back in 1972, such as the right to free movement across Europe.
High Court forces Parliament to deliberate on Brexit yet again
According to the BBC, Prime Minister Theresa May planned to get on with the UK’s exit from the European Union by the end of March 2017, but it appears that her agenda will be set back by the High Court ruling. The government will be appealing the decision on December 7, mainly because the High Court was not specific on what kind of approval Parliament would have to provide.
The main stances lie in the implications of exiting the European Union. Letting the U.K. stay in the Eurozone would allow it to benefit (and be dragged by) its economic policies, allowing for easy imports and exports. But leaving the EU would allow Britons not to have to face European Union lawmakers and enable the government to impose stricter immigration guidelines, which appears to be the path chosen through a referendum, by the people.
Some suggest that there may even be a second referendum, which could solidify the decision to exit the EU or create more doubt and uncertainty about the position of the United Kingdom in this matter. Lawmakers criticized the decision taken by the court due to it strong-arming the people’s vote.
When will Article 50 be summoned?
Prime Minister Theresa May intends for the Article 50 of the European Communities Act is activated as soon as possible, coining the phrase “Brexit means Brexit.” On the appeal process, the court will have to review if the activation of Article 50 can be reversed. If it cannot, then it would mean a legal bypass where the Parliament is ignored of the decision. The article does not state any measure that forbids the revoking of the process.
The British government would find itself in a position where legal basis must confront the clear will of the people, even if three-fourths of Parliament wanted the U.K. to remain in the European Union. Prime Minister May issued a statement saying that the referendum must be respected, as Parliament approved it in a six-to-one decision. She assures that exiting the European Union would let the United Kingdom enter a new era of jobs, investment, and economic growth, as the union’s adherence to the EU’s guidelines do not allow the UK to develop its markets and sustain its workforce adequately.
One of the keys of the discussion is sovereignty, but the parliament passed its sovereignty unto the people through a referendum, although it was considered by the court to be an advisory vote without binding implications. It is inconsistent to have Parliament decide on a decision that was left to the people to decide upon. To the eyes of many, the High Court’s decision is at the marginal limits of government power to try and prolong the application of Brexit.
The ruling would also let anti-Brexit representatives confront the activation of Article 50 and make it so the government must wait for a parliamentary decision before exiting the EU. The court’s argument is that exiting the European Union would change the people’s rights, which is an area dictated by Parliament and not the government. It proposes several precedents for the ruling, including the parliamentary vote that took place for the United Kingdom to join the EU.
What’s to come for British politics
Brexit passed with a slight majority of 51.9 to 48.1 percent of voters. Even if the decision was submitted to a vote, it appears that the government will have to negotiate a deal with Parliament to establish the terms for leaving the EU.
Until the British government activates Article 50, no negotiations for the exit of the United Kingdom can take place. This is why Theresa May is so impatient in proceeding with Brexit. If things go according to her plans, the United Kingdom will leave the EU by March 2019, but this now appears to be hardly feasible seeing that the court’s ruling will take months to be fully debated and acted upon.
Slowing down Brexit would allow for the possibility of a Scottish independence referendum, mainly because Scottish representatives voted to remain in the European Union, but were held down by the British majority. Brexit supporters also claim that the U.K. will consolidate a stronger position when trading with the European Union, as it already serves as one of the greatest importers of products and services to the European mainland.
As soon as the Brexit referendum passed earlier this year, investor sentiment for the U.K. dropped exponentially. This is due to financial uncertainty, as any smart investor would move its funds to a different currency seeing that the Pound Sterling will most likely undergo an irregular period until the U.K. achieves exactly what it wants by exiting the European Union.