Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will have to make a decision on one of the most complex legal cases in recent decades. From today until 8th December, all 11 supreme judges will hear the parties on the country’s exit from the European Union (EU). This is the largest panel of judges gathered to hear a single case since 1876. Magistrates will have to determine whether Theresa May has reason to appeal the judgment of the lower court, which states that the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty if the Parliament does not agree. Through this act, the UK informs the other 27 member states and European institutions that it will begin negotiations within a two-years-time-frame of leaving the EU.
Article 50 states that each EU country can leave “in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements” – a controversial clause that allows for extensive interpretation. The governments of Scotland and Wales, representatives of expatriate British citizens, a trade union representing British low-paid workers, the citizens from the EU living in the country and a group protecting the rights of children, will be able to express their stance on Brexit. If the court confirms that the government must seek the approval of Parliament, the activation of leaving the EU can be stopped in the House of Commons or the House of Lords.
Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, represents the administration of Theresa May in court. The Prime Minister made it clear that regardless of the outcome, she intends to take advantage of Article 50 by not later than the end of March next year and begin negotiations with other EU countries as the goal is to exit the bloc in 2019. If it turns out that parliament really must have the last word on Brexit, that would be a serious blow to Theresa May, and the country’s exit from the EU could be significantly delayed. According to the Lisbon Treaty, leaving the community is done through negotiations and has a set period of two years from submission of an application to Brussels. If negotiations are not finalized by this time, membership is automatically terminated.
“It is not a question of whether we should do it or not”, Shami Chakrabarty of the Labor Party said. According to her, too many problems are waiting for solutions, such as how the UK will function after Brexit and what the relations with other EU countries will be. She said that the outcome of this complex situation is in the hands of the judges.
For many Britons, the outcome of the referendum was surprising. The decision to Brexit led to a decline in the value of the pound by 15% this year and triggered the biggest one-day drop in the local securities market after the financial crisis of 2008. A recent report states that the number of dollar-millionaires in Britain fell by 15% after the referendum to leave the EU. Moreover, households in Great Britain are poorer by around 1,500 billion dollars after the Brexit referendum.
When a final decision on leaving the EU is made, Britain will have to leave the single market. This will significantly reduce the convergence between it and the union. According to estimates by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, if the island nation remains outside the single market for goods and services in the European Union, it will lose about 4% of its GDP by 2030. Projected losses amount to about 75 billion pounds. Judging by the leaked state documents published in The Times, if the United Kingdom decided to rely on the WTO, it would cost the UK 66 billion pounds per year. Moreover, in Scotland, the average income may decrease by 2,000 pounds and over 80,000 jobs could be lost. The court’s decision is not expected before the early months of 2017.