Brexit moved deeper into uncharted waters with the successful legal challenge partly funded by British expats winning against Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to press the Article 50 button to leave the European Union without consulting Parliament.
High Court judges agreed with the argument from expats and other Brexit campaigners that May did not have the power to make the decision without the authorisation from the House of Lords and MPs.
However, the fight remains unfinished as the government files for an appeal.
A government spokesman said: “The government is disappointed by the court’s judgment.
“The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by Act of Parliament. And the government is determined to respect the result of the referendum.
“We will appeal this judgment.”
The basis for the legal ruling was that the referendum question was loosely worded and amounted to advice to MPs rather than a mandate to act.
The appeal will leapfrog the Court of Appeal and go straight to the Supreme Court, Britain’s highest judiciary level.
Time has been allocated to hear the case from December 5.
The final decision could delay May’s plan to start Brexit by the end of March.
If the government loses the appeal, legislation will need drafting to go before both houses in Westminster. MPs and the Lords will then have a chance to debate Brexit and to try to amend the terms.
This could mean May missing her March deadline to start Brexit talks.
If she loses the appeal and a subsequent vote on Article 50 legislation in Westminster, May could be forced to resign and call an early general election.
This is a real risk as opposition to Brexit is much stronger in the House of Lords than among MPs.
The legal challenge is also prolonging economic uncertainty.
Businesses in the UK and Europe must wait and see how the appeal progresses and may have to delay investment and board decisions until they can see how Brexit will impact the economy both in Britain and the EU.
Meanwhile, Britain is bolstering free trade deals with emerging economies. Last week, ministers were boosting ties with Columbia, while May is currently in India talking business with Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi.