The highest U.K. court ruled Prime Minister Theresa May must seek an act of Parliament to trigger the two-year countdown to Brexit, handing lawmakers a chance to soften the government’s plan.
The court ruled against the government by an 8-3 vote, Judge David Neuberger said Tuesday. The judges ruled unanimously, however, that legislatures in Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t get to vote on the Article 50 process that starts to wrest the U.K. from the European Union after 44 years.
The judges said leaving the EU will mark a fundamental change to British law by altering legal rights and cutting off EU laws. The U.K.’s constitutional arrangements require such changes to be clearly authorized by parliament, and lawmakers must be involved in triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, they ruled.
“Only legislation which is embodied in a statute will do,” Neuberger said. “A resolution of the House of Commons is not legislation. What form such legislation should take is entirely a matter for Parliament.”