Six months after the United Kingdom’s historic vote to leave the European Union, the world still waits as London navigates its uncertain future. This past summer left its neighboring countries in shock from these neck to neck results when the U.K. voted out of the EU.
The U.K. must activate Article 50 of the Treaty of the EU to signal its leave. Once the U.K. has done so, Prime Minister Theresa May can begin negotiations with the EU over the relationship the U.K. will have once it has left.
Britain’s High Court, however, has introduced a new obstacle for May’s negotiation. The three judges presiding over the case have ruled unanimously that Article 50 requires Parliamentary approval. This ruling has been a momentous ruling in favor of the sovereignty of Parliament, but the issue raised by the opposition: does this give Parliament the power to circumnavigate the will of the people?
Government has claimed this is a poorly camouflaged effort to kill the Brexit or as May has put it, “they are insulting the intelligence of the British people.” In theory, this would give Parliament the ability to counter-act the Referendum vote. Especially when you take into consideration that the majority of MPs are opposed to leaving the EU.
However, the government leaders had pledged before the referendum vote to adhere to the decision of the populous, and no elected official wants to be seen taking back his or her word. What this means, in actuality, is that May must work with Parliament in the U.K. Government’s discussions with the EU. Most importantly this may affect whether the U.K. remains in the EU’s single market.
The U.K. leaving the European single market is an economist’s single biggest fear regarding the ‘Brexit’. The single market is the crux of the EU and is based on four freedoms within member countries: capital, goods, services and people. For Britain to leave the EU, this process would severely impact its economy. Whether that economy can recover the shock is under fierce debate, but if Britain were to remain, the country would have to keep its loose immigration policy with the rest of Europe.
Immigration control was one of the main issues surrounding Britains leave from the EU, and is one of May’s main agendas in the negotiations. May still has the option to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but has yet to do so. It is speculated that the Supreme Court will uphold the decision, and a failed appeal would weaken May’s position in the negotiations.
This newfound power Parliament now wields has left proponents of the Brexit nervous. It will require compromises the winning side had not foreseen and a level of cooperation to ensure the best for the British people. While the High Court’s ruling adds additioanal indecision over the force that guides this unknown path, only time will determine the fate of the U.K.