- Title: Supreme Court to rule on landmark Brexit case
- Date: 23rd January 2017
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE - NOVEMBER 29, 2016) (REUTERS) HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT ON BANKS OF RIVER THAMES UNION JACK FLYING OVER PARLIAMENT BIG BEN AND HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT IN SHADOW FROM SUN SUN GLINTING ON RIVER THAMES
- Embargoed: 6th February 2017 11:10
- Keywords: Theresa May Brexit Article 50 Supreme Court European Union parliament
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK / PARIS, FRANCE / BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK / PARIS, FRANCE / BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA00C60BJPS7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:British Prime Minister Theresa May will learn on Tuesday (January 24) whether parliament must agree to the triggering of Britain's exit from the European Union, potentially giving lawmakers who oppose her plans a chance to amend or hinder her Brexit vision.
The UK Supreme Court will give its ruling at 0930 GMT in a landmark case on whether May can use executive powers known as known as "royal prerogative" to invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty and begin two-years of divorce talks.
Challengers, led by investment manager Gina Miller and backed by the likes of the Scottish government, say May must first get lawmakers' approval as leaving the EU will strip Britons of rights they were granted by parliament.
That view was backed by London's High Court, prompting the government to appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the land.
The case has attracted huge attention from markets, with investors hoping parliament will temper moves towards a "hard Brexit", and it has again brought to the fore some of the ugly divisions among Britons produced by last June's referendum.
Brexit supporters have cast the legal battle as an attempt by a pro-EU establishment to thwart the referendum result after Britons voted by 52-48 percent to leave the EU, with judges denounced as "enemies of the people" and Miller receiving death threats and a torrent of online abuse.
"We are not being asked to overturn the result of the EU referendum," David Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court said at the conclusion of a four-day hearing in front of all its 11 judges in December.
"The ultimate question in this case concerns the process by which that result can lawfully be brought into effect."
If May wins the case, she can follow her planned timetable for invoking Article 50 by the end of March. If she loses, a more likely eventuality according to legal experts, she will probably need to bring in a parliamentary bill.
Last week May set out her stall for negotiations, promising a clean break with the world's largest trading block as part of a 12-point plan to focus on global free trade deals, setting out a course for a so-called "hard Brexit".
Some investors and those who backed the "remain" campaign hope that lawmakers, most of whom wanted to stay in the EU, will force May to seek a deal which prioritises access to the European single market of 500 million people, or potentially even block Brexit altogether.
While some in parliament remain strongly opposed to the path being set by May, the main opposition Labour has said it would neither block nor slow triggering of Article 50, and parliament's the House of Commons overwhelmingly backed a motion backing her timetable in a non-binding vote last December.
However, Labour's leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would seek to amend any bill brought to parliament, and the small Liberal Democrat Party and Scottish nationalists who are adamantly opposed to May's Brexit plans, are likely to take the chance to cause difficulties for the government.
While the thrust of the Supreme Court case centred on whether the British parliament had to give its assent, the judges also heard arguments from the Scottish government and lawyers for Northern Irish challengers that Britain's devolved assemblies must give their approval too.
Should the court agree, an outcome ministers believe is unlikely, the current political crisis in Northern Ireland could derail May's timetable following the collapse of the province's power-sharing government.
Scotland's parliament with a nationalist administration is also strongly opposed to Brexit.
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