Brexit legal challenge: UK government appeals

The UK Supreme Court is considering whether to hear an appeal filed by the government over a Brexit legal challenge to be heard in Europe.

On November 27 an emergency hearing of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg will examine whether a majority vote against Brexit in the House of Commons will be able to arrest the UK’s minimal progress out of the EU. The Brexit legal challenge, submitted by a group of pro-Remain MPs and campaigners, was referred to the ECJ by the Edinburgh Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court.

A cross-party group of Scottish MPs, MSPs and MEPs teamed with Good Law Project director Jolyon Maugham QC to bring the Brexit legal challenge, arguing that MPs should be able to vote to revoke Article 50 without the permission of the government or other Member States. They said Brexit was “not inevitable” and that allowing parliament to vote to stay in the EU could be essential to avoid a “no deal disaster”.

The Court of Session initially turned down the group’s bid to refer their Brexit legal challenge to the ECJ, but after the group successfully appealed the court’s decision the case was passed to the ECJ with a request for an expedited procedure due to the time sensitivity of the issue.

The UK government has asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against the Court of Session’s decision to refer the Brexit legal challenge to the ECJ, citing the terms of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Lawyers for the Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) say the issue of reversing Article 50, thereby stopping Brexit, is hypothetical as the government has declared it has no intention of doing so; and that remaining in the EU would undermine the sovereignty of parliament.

The Supreme Court has not set a date to hear the appeal. A statement from the court said: “The court is aware of the urgency of this matter.”

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