Investment manager Gina Miller (pictured) has won a High Court ruling forcing the UK government to hold a vote in Parliament over its plans to start the process of leaving the European Union.
Prime Minister Theresa May planned to use existing royal prerogative powers to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and begin the formal process of exit negotiations by the end of next March, but the High Court has ruled that the government must now consult Parliament first.
The government had argued that the result of the referendum, with 51.8 per cent voting to leave the EU, coupled with existing ministerial powers, meant a vote by MPs wasn’t required. Campaigners, including Miller, co-founder of investment management firm SCM Direct, called this unconstitutional and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd agreed.
In his ruling he said: "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 European Union."
Referring to the case as "a pure question of law", he added: "The court is not concerned with and does not express any view about the merits of leaving the European Union: that is a political issue."
The government is planning to appeal the decision, with a further hearing expected in Deecmeber.
Speaking in the House of Commons following the ruling, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said he was "disappointed" but that he was also "determined to respect the result of the referendum".
Miller though, speaking outside of the High Court, said the government should, make the “wise decision of not appealing”.
“The result today is about all of us,” she said. “It’s not about me or my team. It’s about our United Kingdom and all our futures.”
Reacting to the ruling, Monica Gogna, a partner in the investment management and financial services regulation team at Ropes & Gray, has said that clarity is what is needed now.
“This will be an on-going story for the coming months,” she said. “The key factor is to not forget that whilst politics continues, businesses require a level of certainty in the coming months and years to continue to be at the forefront of the world's asset management sector.”
Clarity is also key for Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has urged the government to make clear its Brexit negotiation plans to Parliament “without delay”.
Corbyn said: ”Labour respects the decision of the British people to leave the European Union. But there must be transparency and accountability to parliament on the terms of Brexit."
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Fallon has gone step further suggesting that the electorate should also be given the opportunity to vote on the terms of any Brexit deal negotiated by the government.
"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 jobs,” he said.
"What the government was seeking to do was to impose a deal that absolutely nobody voted for, that most people who voted to leave wouldn't be happy with and most people who voted to remain wouldn't be happy with, without any kind of Parliamentary scrutiny.
"So it's a terrible shame it had to go to the courts, but what has happened is that democracy and sovereignty have been restored."