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Govt loses Supreme Court appeal on triggering Brexit


The Supreme Court has ruled that the Government cannot trigger Article 50 without putting it to a Parliamentary vote.

In a vote of eight to three, the Supreme Court has ruled that MPs must vote to approve the measure that would start the UK’s exit from the EU.

Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said that proceeding without the consent of Parliament would be a “breach of settled constitutional principles established over centuries”.

Neuberger said: “Any change in the law must be made in the only way permitted by the constitution, and that is by an Act of Parliament.”

He noted that approving the addition of Article 50 into EU treaties was only done with a vote from MPs.

The legal challenge was launched by SCM Investments founder Gina Miller in July and supported by law firm Mishcon de Reya.

Miller argued that without parliamentary scrutiny and approval, invoking Article 50 would be unlawful.

In November, a court ruled that MPs should vote on Article 50, sending the pound up 1 per cent in the immediate aftermath of the decision.

The High Court found that the Government’s executive power could not go as far as tearing up parliamentary legislation that gives specific rights to British citizens such as the European Communities Act of 1972.

The case was passed to the Supreme Court after the Government appeal the High Court’s decision.

The Supreme Court spent four days hearing the Article 50 case in December.

Prime Minister Theresa May and the lawyers in the case were briefed earlier this morning on the result.

The Supreme Court judges have said on several occasions that they were deciding simply on a point of law and not on their views regarding Brexit.

Lord Neuberger said in his ruling today: “The issue in these proceedings has nothing to do with whether we should exit the EU, or the terms or timetable for that exit.”

Attorney General Jeremy Wright said that the Government was “disappointed with the outcome” but would accept the court’s ruling.

“We are fortunate to live in a country where…even the Government is subject to the rule of law.”

The pound initially rallied to $1.25189 but fell to $1.24543 as it was confirmed that Scotland and the other devolved assemblies do not get an vote on Article 50, which many believed could curb a hard Brexit.

Writing for the Guardian in light of the result, Miller said the Supreme Court’s decision was not a personal victory, but a victory for “our constitution, our laws, and, I would argue, our way of life”.



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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Surprise, surprise, we do live in a parliamentary democracy after all. So how much did the government spend on the lawyers for a completely pointless exercise? Must run into millions.

    • Nothing is the answer as those involved were all government lawyers and would have been paid doing something else anyway.

      However – this was our judges ruling in our courts on issues affecting our parliament. That was one of the cornerstones of the leave campaign. Just because the answer was not what some may have wanted it does give clarity. Now all that happens is that parliament will vote to trigger Article 50 and it is likely to be passed (as it should, regardless of the personal feelings of some MP’s). There will only be a problem if the vote is lost because that means that those who are elected to act for the people are disobeying the will of the people and that becomes an issue

      • But probably not being paid nearly as much as they get for this shambles.
        There is also the perfectly fair point that those who voted to leave and those who voted to stay are entitled to confirm or otherwise that they maintain their view when the full details of what is involved become clear. How we achieve that is another question.

  2. Marty, nothing is not the answer. This will have been all they have worked on for months. All that resource should have been deployed elsewhere. It will be equal to millions in time and money alone.

    Let’s see how it plays out.

  3. All a bit of a shambles. Govt. should never have got in this mess but what caught in my throat most was that all the parties involved kept on saying that this was nothing to do with Remain or Leave but it was just making sure ‘due process’ was observed. Technically they are of course correct but the real agenda was just to try and put a spanner, any spanner, in the works.
    Lets do the European thing and have multiple referenda until the left/liberal alliance gets the vote it wants.
    While we are about it I seem to recall the vote for the Welsh Assembly was much more finely balanced but ‘Holy’ Tony declared that a majority is a majority, is a majority. is a majority!!!
    I think there was less than one percent in that vote so how about a re-run of that too?
    I hope the Govt. gets on top of this and the Leave negotiations somewhat better than they have proceeded to date.

    • Your ramble has completely missed the point. The referendum was not legally binding. Nobody is trying to change the outcome, if anything they are ensuring there is NO spanners in the work. Left unchecked somebody could have stopped Brexit during the negotiations…which would have been worse.

  4. If only they’d put this much effort in before the vote.
    Typical ‘fire-fighting’ from the powers at be.
    They could have educted us all properly, ran a ‘residency test’ on all expats, eliminating them from being able to skew our vote (causing a larger majority for us leavers) and saving us all a fortune on false E111 claims.
    The worry for us all is if parliament vote No! I really don’t fancy a UKIP government, but they’ll get at least my vote if that’s the case.

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