UK government loses first Brexit battle

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

The British Meat Processors Association said the High Court ruling is 'not entirely surprising'
The British Meat Processors Association said the High Court ruling is 'not entirely surprising'

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The UK’s High Court has ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the process for leaving the European Union (EU) – without parliamentary approval. 

The landmark ruling, made on 3 November, means the UK government cannot use royal prerogative powers to trigger Article 50 in a bid to start of the process without a vote by UK members of parliament.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May had argued that the referendum result – a 51.9% majority win in favour of leaving the EU – meant the government could start Brexit talks​ without parliamentary approval. However, this stance has been thrown out by the High Court, which said it “does not accept the argument put forward by the government​”.

The UK government will appeal the ruling.

‘This will only get worse’

Reacting to the news, a spokesman for the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said: “This ruling is not entirely surprising, given the complexity of the situation and the fact that no country has ever had to trigger Article 50 before.

However, what is clear is that the current uncertainty over the post-referendum process is damaging business confidence. As a meat sector, the future of trading arrangements and labour availability on which our future relies are extremely unclear and this judgement, if anything, will mean it is even further into the future before clarity is brought to these vital issues. We are already seeing challenges in recruiting sufficiently qualified staff in the boning and abattoir sector and this will only get worse until there is clarity about the future ‘post Brexit world’.​”

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, praised the decision, stating it “underlines the need for the government to bring its negotiating terms to parliament without delay​”.

He added: “Labour will be pressing the case for a Brexit that works for Britain, putting jobs, living standards and the economy first.​”

News of the key court ruling caused the value of the pound to rise the most against the dollar since August 2016.

This story is developing. More to follow.

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