The man who may have unwittingly determined the future of Britain’s place in the European Union is Lord Chief Justice John Thomas.
He was the most senior of figure on the three-man panel that today ruled the Government cannot trigger Article 50 – the mechanism by which Britain would leave the EU – without the authority of Parliament.
The extraordinary decision was taken after weeks of arguments and deliberations between Government lawyers and those representing a group of campaigners led by investment manager Gina Miller.
The man who had the final say is Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd.
As head of the judiciary and President of the Courts, he is the most senior judge in the UK. That honour was previously held by the Lord Chancellor, who is usually an MP or peer, but the legal powers of that role were mostly removed by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.
Lord Thomas was born in Wales and educated at Rugby School and Cambridge University.
What experts have said about Brexit
What experts have said about Brexit
1/11 Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
The Chancellor claims London can still be a world financial hub despite Brexit “One of Britain’s great strengths is the ability to offer and aggregate all of the services the global financial services industry needs” “This has not changed as a result of the EU referendum and I will do everything I can to ensure the City of London retains its position as the world’s leading international financial centre.”
2/11 Yanis Varoufakis
Greece's former finance minister compared the UK relations with the EU bloc with a well-known song by the Eagles: “You can check out any time you like, as the Hotel California song says, but you can't really leave. The proof is Theresa May has not even dared to trigger Article 50. It's like Harrison Ford going into Indiana Jones' castle and the path behind him fragmenting. You can get in, but getting out is not at all clear”
3/11 Michael O’Leary
Ryanair boss says UK will be ‘screwed’ by EU in Brexit trade deals: “I have no faith in the politicians in London going on about how ‘the world will want to trade with us’. The world will want to screw you – that's what happens in trade talks,” he said. “They have no interest in giving the UK a deal on trade”
4/11 Tim Martin
JD Wetherspoon's chairman has said claims that the UK would see serious economic consequences from a Brexit vote were "lurid" and wrong: “We were told it would be Armageddon from the OECD, from the IMF, David Cameron, the chancellor and President Obama who were predicting locusts in the fields and tidal waves in the North Sea"
5/11 Mark Carney
Governor of Bank of England is 'serene' about Bank of England's Brexit stance: “I am absolutely serene about the … judgments made both by the MPC and the FPC”
6/11 Christine Lagarde
IMF chief urges quick Brexit to reduce economic uncertainty: “We want to see clarity sooner rather than later because we think that a lack of clarity feeds uncertainty, which itself undermines investment appetites and decision making”
7/11 Inga Beale
Lloyd’s chief executive says Brexit is a major issue: "Clearly the UK's referendum on its EU membership is a major issue for us to deal with and we are now focusing our attention on having in place the plans that will ensure Lloyd's continues trading across Europe”
8/11 Colm Kelleher
President of US bank Morgan Stanley says City of London ‘will suffer’ as result of the EU referendum: “I do believe, and I said prior to the referendum, that the City of London will suffer as result of Brexit. The issue is how much”
9/11 Richard Branson
Virgin founder believes we've lost a THIRD of our value because of Brexit and cancelled a deal worth 3,000 jobs: We're not any worse than anybody else, but I suspect we've lost a third of our value which is dreadful for people in the workplace.' He continued: "We were about to do a very big deal, we cancelled that deal, that would have involved 3,000 jobs, and that’s happening all over the country"
10/11 Barack Obama
US President believes Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU: "It is absolutely true that I believed pre-Brexit vote and continue to believe post-Brexit vote that the world benefited enormously from the United Kingdom's participation in the EU. We are fully supportive of a process that is as little disruptive as possible so that people around the world can continue to benefit from economic growth"
11/11 Kristin Forbes
American economist and an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England argues that the economy had been “less stormy than many expected” following the shock referendum result: “For now…the economy is experiencing some chop, but no tsunami. The adverse winds could quickly pick up – and merit a stronger policy response. But recently they have shifted to a more favourable direction”
He was called to the Bar in 1969 and became a High Court judge in 1996, sitting in the challenging environment of the commercial court. Lord Thomas was appointed as a member of the Queen’s Privy Council in 2003.
As a High Court judge he was responsible for a number of high-profile rulings, including refusing Julian Assange’s appeal against extradition from the UK to Sweden and radical cleric Abu Hamza’s fight against extradition to the USA. He became known for being brusque but effective in court.
The 69-year-old was appointed as Lord Chief Justice in October 2013, succeeding Lord Judge and being awarded the role instead of Lady Justice Hallett, who many believed would become the first female Lady Chief Justice.
He was chosen by the appointments panel and confirmed by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling after a lengthy process. Candidates were required to pen a 2000-word essay, give an on-the-spot presentation and recount their substantial past experience.
However, it may be his latest ruling, which could have a decisive impact on whether leaves the EU, for which Lord Chief Justice Thomas becomes best known.