U.K. Government Faces Court Challenge to Brexit Article 50 Trigger

Theresa May
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Britain, October 2. Toby Melville/Reuters

The British government today faces a high-court challenge to its Brexit strategy.

The court will consider whether the government has the right, as it claims, to trigger the Article 50 EU exit mechanism without the approval of Parliament. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will do so by the end of March.

The challenge to the policy comes from a group of citizens including investment manager Gina Miller. Miller's legal team is led by the crossbench peer and constitutional lawyer Lord Pannick.

The government believes it has the right to trigger Article 50 under so-called "royal prerogative" powers, which place the ability to perform certain actions, largely relating to foreign affairs, as the gift of the government.

But Miller's legal team is expected to argue that invoking Article 50 will impinge on the rights of British citizens as conferred under the 1972 European Communities Act, which paved the way for Britain's eventual EU membership, the BBC reports.

Only Parliament, they will argue, can take away rights granted under law, meaning that triggering Article 50 must have the consent of the Commons and the Lords before it can be undertaken.

"It is about ensuring for the future of this country that the legally correct process for leaving under the UK constitution is followed," Miller said.

"It should be undertaken in accordance with our laws. If we do not have clarity over the correct legal way to trigger Article 50, it could result in significant legal disputes and uncertainty over the validity of the notification."

The Labour Party also wants Parliament to have a say over the terms of an EU exit deal, though it says it does not believe Parliament should have the ability to block Brexit altogether.

But while the government has said it recognizes the need for "parliamentary scrutiny" of the Brexit process, it says such scrutiny should not "undermine" the government's negotiations.

U.K. Government Faces Court Challenge to Brexit Article 50 Trigger | World