The British government said leaving the European Union will not be delayed, after the Supreme Court ruled that Brexit must be triggered by an act of Parliament.
The court ruled Jan. 24 that the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the bloc without the go-ahead of Parliament. However, the devolved legislatures of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need not be consulted.
"Today, with a majority of eight to three the Supreme Court rules the government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of Parliament authorizing it to do so," said David Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court. "To proceed otherwise would be a breach of settled constitutional principles stretching back many centuries."
In the June 2016 Brexit referendum, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU with a majority of 62% and 55.8%, respectively. A judgement requiring their local governments to weigh in on Article 50 would have potentially provided them with a veto over Brexit. In Wales, 52.5% of voters opted to leave.
The government said the Supreme Court ruling does not impede the process of departure from the European bloc, or alter the timetable set out by Prime Minister Theresa May.
"The British people voted to leave the EU, and the government will deliver on their verdict — triggering Article 50, as planned, by the end of March. Today's ruling does nothing to change that," said a government spokesperson, adding that a majority of parliamentarians are expected to vote in favor of triggering Article 50.
"It's important to remember that parliament backed the referendum by a margin of 6 to 1 and has already indicated its support for getting on with the process of exit to the timetable we have set out."