A U.K. court ruled Thursday that the government can’t kick off the process of leaving the European Union without a vote from Parliament, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s strategy for taking the country out of the bloc. The government said it would appeal to the Supreme Court. If the verdict is upheld, that would mean lawmakers, a majority of whom voted to stay, would have more influence over how Brexit is carried out and could theoretically delay or even stop the process.
The case - brought by a group of British citizens with the help of some of the U.K.’s top constitutional lawyers - is a major complication for Mrs. May, who has said she plans to invoke Article 50, which open the two-year window for talks, by the end of March 2017. Her spokeswoman said the government planned to stick to that timetable.
The government has called the case an attempt to overturn the will of the British people, who chose in June to break away from the EU. “The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by act of Parliament,” a U.K. government spokesman said. “And the government is determined to respect the result of the referendum.”
The Supreme Court is on standby to give an expedited hearing before a full bench of 11 judges early next month. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said his party respects the referendum results and wouldn’t stop Brexit, but called for more openness from the government on its exact approach to talks.
“This ruling underlines the need for the government to bring its negotiating terms to Parliament without delay,” Mr. Corbyn said in a statement.