Theresa May sticks with Brexit timetable as pressure begins to mount

British prime minister Theresa May has told EU leaders she is confident the court ruling that could delay Britain’s departure from the bloc will be overturned and vowed to stick to her Brexit timetable.

Ms May told German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker she believed her case that the British government, not parliament, should be responsible for triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, a spokesman said.

May is determined to carry out what she calls “the will of the people” and deliver Brexit.

However, a High Court ruling on Thursday that parliament must approve the process raised doubts over whether she can trigger Article 50 by the end of March as she planned. It also prompted suggestions of an early election.

The UK government will appeal against the ruling in the Supreme Court, which is expected to consider it early next month.

“The focus of the government is on the supreme court case, winning that case and proceeding with Article 50,” May’s spokesman said, adding that the end of March remains the target.

The spokesman declined to comment on whether the government was now drafting contingency plans for a possible failure in the supreme court, a move that would allow parliament to delay any move to start the divorce process.

The court ruling has spurred hope among investors and pro-EU politicians that parliament will now put pressure on Ms May’s government to soften any plans for a hard Brexit, or a clean break with the EU’s lucrative single market.

Elsewhere, it emerged yesterday that Deutsche Telekom is considering selling its 12% stake in BT Group, paving the way for it to leave the British telecoms market following Britain’s vote to quit the EU.

The German group is evaluating a potential sale of its stake, which has a market value of £4.4bn (4.9bn), and will take a final decision once it has more clarity on the kind of deal Britain will strike with the EU next year.

While there is no certainty a deal will happen, Deutsche Telekom’s deliberations are one further signal that foreign companies are rethinking their strategic investments in Britain in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Meanwhile, speaking at an event in Kilkenny, AIB chairman Richard Pym dismissed the Brexit decision as “folly” and said that Ireland remains very attractive to overseas investors and is in a unique position to benefit from the UK’s plan to leave the EU.

He said he remains optimistic about the Irish economy. 

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