May vows to deliver EU exit in full despite legal setback

British Prime Minister Theresa May looks on as she leaves the European Union leaders summit on Oct 21, 2016.
British Prime Minister Theresa May looks on as she leaves the European Union leaders summit on Oct 21, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she would deliver a full exit from the European Union (EU), hitting back at critics of her Brexit strategy who have threatened to try to block the process in Parliament.

The government's plans to launch a two-year divorce process by the end of March next year were thrown into disarray last Thursday when a court ruled that Parliament must be consulted on the decision. Mrs May has said she is confident of overturning the ruling.

Nevertheless, the prospect of a parliamentary vote has enraged eurosceptic lawmakers who fear the "hard Brexit" they want will be watered down, and emboldened political opponents who want a less radical split from the bloc, according to a Reuters report.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Mrs May signalled she would resist any attempt to force her to change her approach to leaving the EU, a historic break that was approved by 52 per cent of Britons in a referendum in June.

"The people made their choice, and did so decisively. It is the responsibility of the government to get on with the job and to carry out their instruction in full," she wrote.

She said members of Parliament who regretted the referendum result "need to accept what the people decided".

The head of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Mr Jeremy Corbyn, said in a newspaper interview that he would try to block the commencement of divorce talks with the EU if the government does not agree to his Brexit demands.

Mrs May's government, which has given little away about its plans for Britain's future relationship with the EU, has said that having to set out a detailed negotiating strategy to Parliament would put it at a disadvantage in the talks.

Parliament could, in theory, block Brexit because most members supported staying in the EU in June's referendum. But many lawmakers have signalled they would be willing to reverse their position to reflect the referendum result.

A government appeal against the High Court ruling is expected to be considered by the Supreme Court next month.

The Guardian reported that Mrs May will send a Cabinet minister to the House of Commons today to make a statement on the ruling.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2016, with the headline 'May vows to deliver EU exit in full despite legal setback'. Print Edition | Subscribe