The decision – made on November 3 – meant that MPs must now vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU. The government is expected to appeal the ruling.
May argued the referendum result – a 51.9% victory for the Leave campaign – meant MPs did not need to vote.
The High Court ruled: “The Court does not accept the argument put forward by the government. We decide that the government does not have power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the UK to withdraw from the EU.”
‘The Court does not accept government’s argument’
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said he was delighted by the ruling.
“So far, May’s team have been all over the place when it comes to prioritising what is best for Britain, and it’s time they pull their socks up and start taking this seriously,” Farron said.
The ruling followed questions over the right of up to 100,000 non-UK EU nationals to work in the British food and drink sector after Brexit. Without a definitive plan for life after Brexit, it was also unclear how the government could secure access to the EU’s 500M consumers, while also restricting the ability of further EU nationals to work in the UK.
1,500 Scottish food jobs at risk
The decision came after 1,500 Scottish food sector jobs were revealed to be at risk following the Brexit vote. A report from the Fraser of Allander Institute said the Scottish food industry could lose £150M from leaving the EU.
Meanwhile, a Food and Drink Federation (FDF) survey revealed 70% of UK food and drink firms were less confident about business prospects than before the EU referendum. FDF director general Ian Wright urged manufacturers “don’t panic”, while acknowledging the UK was at the point of “maximum uncertainty” regarding exit planning.
What they say about Article 50 ruling
- Former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage said: “I worry that a betrayal may be near at hand. Our political class, who were out in force, do not accept the 23rd of June referendum result. I now fear that every attempt will be made to block or delay the triggering of Article 50. If this is so, they have no idea of the level of public anger they will provoke.
- Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron: “Given the strict two year timetable of exiting the EU once Article 50 is triggered, it is critical that the government now lay out their negotiating to Parliament, before such a vote is held. So far May’s team have been all over the place when it comes to prioritising what is best for Britain, and it’s time they pull their socks up and start taking this seriously. Ultimately, the British people voted for a departure but not for a destination, which is why what really matters is allowing them to vote again on the final deal, giving them the chance to say no to an irresponsible hard Brexit that risks our economy and our job.”