Britain will have to wait for a vote from Parliament before it can leave the European Union, a U.K. court ruled Thursday.
The decision comes after the U.K. voted in a June referendum in favor of ‘Brexit,’ as it has come to be known.
The court ruling is a political setback for Prime Minister Theresa May, who planned to start the Brexit process by March. Once the U.K. invokes the EU’s Article 50, it has two years to outline the terms of its departure.
The U.K. High Court ruled that process must first receive parliamentary approval because leaving the EU will inevitably change domestic laws Parliament has enacted.
Some members of Parliament hailed the decision as an endorsement of parliamentary power.
“Regardless of how people voted in the referendum on leaving the European Union, it is vital that the Government is open and transparent with the British public – and their democratically elected representatives,” Catherine McKinnell, a Member of Parliament from northeast England, said in a statement.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, echoed the sentiment.
“Labour respects the decision of the British people to leave the European Union. But there must be transparency and accountability to parliament on the terms of Brexit,” Corbyn said in a statement.
Video by Associated Press
Proponents of Brexit, however, lambasted the decision.
“Our democracy is being damaged by an elite band of people in the legal system,” said Richard Tice, co-chairman of the Leave Means Leave campaign, Reuters reported. “A vote in Parliament is wholly unnecessary, time consuming and betrays the democratic will of the people.”
Member of Parliament and leader of the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage also expressed concern about the future of Brexit and public backlash.
“I now fear that every attempt will be made to block or delay the triggering of Article 50. If this is so, they have no idea of the level of public anger they will provoke,” Farage said in a statement.
A majority in Parliament opposed leaving the EU prior to the referendum, but many do not expect the legislative body to block the departure.
However, some experts believe they could delay the vote and possibly pass legislation that would ensure a “softer” exit, The Wall Street Journal reported. That could result in retaining more ties to the union and a more open immigration policy.
The government plans to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court, the U.K.’s highest judicial authority. The court is expected to hear the case next month, the Associated Press reported.