UK PM has no legal obligation to consult parliament on EU divorce: spokesman

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May visits a joinery factory in London, Britain August 3, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government has no legal obligation to consult parliament on triggering the formal divorce procedure with the European Union, but lawmakers will have a say, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday.

May has said she will not invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, beginning the formal two-year process for leaving the bloc, before the end of the year to allow the government time to prepare an exit strategy.

Some opponents of Brexit say that since the EU referendum result is not legally binding, elected lawmakers should review the vote before the process is started but the government has insisted the prime minister has the power to trigger an exit.

On Saturday the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported May would not hold a parliamentary vote before invoking Article 50.

“The will of the people must be respected and it must be implemented ... There is no legal obligation to consult parliament on triggering Article 50 - that position has been well set out,” the spokesman told reporters, adding that parliament had overwhelmingly backed holding the EU referendum.

“Parliament will be involved, it will have a say, opinions will be aired.”

London law firm Mishcon de Reya has begun legal action to demand the British government win legislative approval from parliament before triggering Article 50. A hearing is scheduled in mid-October.

The investment manager behind the legal challenge has said many British voters were fooled into backing Brexit without realizing there was no credible plan.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison