Parliament must vote on whether the government can start the formal Brexit process, the Supreme Court in London ruled today.
The judgement means prime minister Theresa May cannot begin talks with the EU until MPs and peers give their backing.
The court also court ruled the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies did not need a say.
Supreme Court justices ruled, by a majority of eight to three, that May cannot lawfully bypass MPs and peers by using the Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start the two-year process of negotiating the UK’s divorce from its EU partners.
May has repeatedly said she intends to trigger Article 50 by the end of March following the clear majority in favour of Brexit in the 2016 referendum.
Following the judgement this morning (24 January), Brexit secretary David Davis promised a parliamentary bill would be published “within days”.
The secretary of state for exiting the EU said he would respond quickly to judges’ demands to give MPs and peers a vote in parliament, but warned that the “point of no return” for Brexit had already been passed.
“This does not change the fact that the UK will be leaving the European Union,” he said.
Speaking about today’s news, Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “The government does not need the approval of devolved nations in order to achieve its March deadline of triggering Article 50. However, the NFB believes that the prime minister should adopt a United Kingdom-wide approach over the coming months, especially at a time when the industrial strategy has raised expectations of shared prosperity across regions.”
The construction industry has been closely monitoring the Brexit and Article 50 situation as the industry fears possible labour and funding shortages for construction projects post Brexit.