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MPs and peers will have to give the green light to start EU divorce proceedings

PUBLISHED: 09:55 24 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:45 24 January 2017

Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, announcing that the  Government has lost its appeal against a ruling that the Prime Minister must seek MPs' approval to trigger the process of taking Britain out of the European Union. Picture  Supreme Court/PA Wire

Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, announcing that the Government has lost its appeal against a ruling that the Prime Minister must seek MPs' approval to trigger the process of taking Britain out of the European Union. Picture Supreme Court/PA Wire

MPs and peers will have to vote before Theresa May can formally start divorce proceedings from the European Union.

The Supreme Court upheld a high court ruling by a margin of eight to three that parliament would have to give its backing to the triggering of Article 50.

But devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will not be able to block the plans after senior judges ruled that it was a matter for the UK parliament.

Brexit secretary David Davis will appear before the House of Commons this afternoon to set out the next steps of the Government following the ruling.

Responding to the judgment, Lord Chancellor Elizabeth Truss said: “Our independent judiciary is the cornerstone of the rule of law and is vital to our constitution and our freedoms. The reputation of our judiciary is unrivalled the world over, and our Supreme Court justices are people of integrity and impartiality.

“While we may not always agree with judgments, it is a fundamental part of any thriving democracy that legal process is followed. The government has been clear that it will respect the decision of the court.”

UK Independence Party MP Douglas Carswell said he was pleased with the ruling and all the lawyers in London could not stop Britain leaving the European Union.

“It is now for the Commons and the Lords to vote on it. If the Commons tries to veto it let’s have a General Election and get a new House of Commons. If the Lords try to veto it, let’s create 800 new Brexit peers.

“I think it is pretty clear now Article 50 will be triggered by the end of March and this is great news for the majority of people in East Anglia who want us to take back control of our country.”

He said that he had feared that lawyers would put impossible obstacles in the way of Brexit, but they hadn’t.

“Parliament knows that any MP who votes against it knows that there would likely be a general election if the Commons vetoed the will of the people, and they would likely lose their seats.

“If they are Conservative MPs they would almost certainly not stand as Conservative candidates. If they are Labour MPs they would almost certainly lose their seats.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “I welcome today’s judgement. But this court case was never about legal arguments, it was about giving the people a voice, a say, in what happens next.

“This Tory Brexit government are keen to laud the democratic process when it suits them, but will not give the people a voice over the final deal. They seem happy to start with democracy and end in a stitch up.

“The Liberal Democrats are clear, we demand a vote of the people on the final deal and without that we will not vote for Article 50.”

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