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Explainer: What happens now the UK parliament will have to vote on Brexit?

It won’t stop Brexit, but Theresa May’s government won’t have it all its own way.

Image: Frank Augstein AP/Press Association Images

THIS MORNING, THE Supreme Court in the UK ruled triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty must be put before Parliament before Brexit can happen.

Supreme Court president, Lord David Neuberger, said that leaving the EU would fundamentally change the UK’s constitution.

He said that it is something which “renders it impermissible for the government to withdraw from the EU Treaties without prior Parliamentary authority”.

What does this mean?

As with passing a bill here in Ireland, it often takes weeks, or months, for a bill to be go from initial debate stage to becoming approved and enshrined in law.

Now that Theresa May’s government will have to go to House of Commons to approve Brexit, she will need the support of all of her Conservative majority to ensure that it goes through the house as quickly as possible.

While a large number of Conservative MPs advocated to leave the EU, it is likely that members from all parties who advocated to remain – including pro-remain Conservatives, Labour, and the Scottish National Party – will table amendments to the motions and bills to delay its passage through Parliament.

Regional Cabinet meeting Source: Stefan Rosseau PA Wire/PA Images

It will give MPs from across the house a chance to debate the issues before the UK begins its negotiations with the EU on leaving.

It is expected that the government will be forced to divulge more details on how it will conduct these negotiations through a parliamentary debate, and that will then be the subject of fierce debate.

After it clears the House of Commons, it will have to go through the House of Lords where the government has no clear majority.

While it will have to go before Parliament in Westminster, the Conservative government will not have to consult with devolved assemblies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland before it acts to leave the EU.

This is despite the fact that both the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.

This is likely to be a relief to the government, as gaining approval from these assemblies – particularly the current dissolved Northern assembly – would be particularly tricky.

Time is short to meet May’s target of triggering Article 50 by the end of March, but Downing Street has already indicated that date is still the target.

A statement from the Prime Minister said: “The government will deliver on their verdict – triggering Article 50, as planned, by the end of March. Today’s ruling does not change that”.

Any debate, then, will need to happen soon.

Any chance Brexit might not happen?

Almost certainly not.

The British people did vote to leave the EU and, despite many of their views and convictions on the matter, an MP voting to block Brexit in a parliamentary vote would be unprecedented.

The Conservative government has filled its senior positions with MPs who campaigned to leave the EU, such as Boris Johnson.

The leader of the opposition, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, has said he will order all Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering article 50.

He has said he will use the parliamentary debate to prevent the Conservatives ruling the EU negotiations.

Read: UK Supreme Court rules Brexit must be approved by Parliament

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About the author:

Sean Murray

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