Rethinking Brexit


On November 3rd, Britain’s High Court ruled that the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May does not have the authority to implement Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without a vote from Britain’s House of Commons and House of Lords.

On June 23rd, the UK held a referendum to decide whether the UK would leave the European Union or remain part of it. This referendum thus popularized the term “Brexit.” Ultimately, the UK voted to leave the EU with a general turnout of more than 30 million voters.

Article 50 is the clause of the Lisbon Treaty—an international agreement that amends the two treaties forming the constitutional basis of the EU—that says that any “Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.” Once Article 50 is implemented, the UK will have two years to negotiate its withdrawal from the EU. The UK’s exit from the EU will be contingent on the approval of over 30 national and regional parliaments across Europe. Article 50 has never been used, marking its impending use by the UK as a historical event.

Prime Minster Theresa May had originally made plans to begin Brexit talks in Brussels, the unofficial capital of the EU, and since the High Court’s ruling, she has stated that nothing has changed these discussion plans. The High Court’s ruling could be a major blow to the Brexit campaign as it is possible that the Brexit referendum could be determined as null and void by the House of Commons and House of Lords.

In reaction, Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, has planned to lead a march to the British Supreme Court in support of the Brexit campaign on December 5th. The march will begin at Trafalgar Square along Whitehall and end at Parliament Square with a projected 100,000 participants.

As reported by The Telegraph, Nigel Farage expressed deep concern over the High Court’s decision, saying, “I worry that a betrayal may be near at hand… 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.”

On November 7th, the British government said it would file an appeal against the British High Court. The hearing is planned for December 5th, after which the Supreme Court will make their ruling in mid-January of 2017.