The High Court has ruled that Parliament must vote on whether or not the UK can start the process of leaving the EU.
This means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – beginning formal discussions with the EU – on their own.
Theresa May says the referendum – and existing ministerial powers – mean MPs do not need to vote, but campaigners called this unconstitutional.
The ruling is a defeat for the government. Prime Minister Theresa May wanted to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017, meaning the U.K. would most likely leave the EU two years later.
The government is appealing, with a further hearing expected next month.
“The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by Act of Parliament. And the Government is determined to respect the result of the referendum,”
-a government spokesperson said.
“We decide that the government does not have power … to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the U.K. to withdraw from the European Union,”
-they said, according to a summary of the judgment.