Attorney General argues High Court judges have consigned Brexit result to ‘almost a footnote’

Issue should not be resolved 'in a vacuum', says Jeremy Wright

Harriet Agerholm
Saturday 03 December 2016 12:14
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Brexit means Brexit: Jeremy Wright QC faces a struggle persuading the Supreme Court to rule against Parliament’s right to vote on triggering Article 50
Brexit means Brexit: Jeremy Wright QC faces a struggle persuading the Supreme Court to rule against Parliament’s right to vote on triggering Article 50

The Attorney General has argued the High Court judges who ruled that Parliament should vote on triggering Article 50 consigned the EU referendum result to “almost a footnote”.

Jeremy Wright QC, head legal officer for the Government, will fight the judgement in the Supreme Court next week, claiming that Prime Minister Theresa May can start Brexit proceedings alone.

Mr Wright said the judges who made November’s ruling were “wrong to relegate, almost to a footnote, the outcome of the referendum and to dismiss it as merely a ‘political event’.”

He added in a legal argument submitted to the court that the issue “cannot be resolved in a vacuum, without regard to the outcome of the referendum.”

The submission was signed by Mr Wright and other lawyers, including Advocate General for Scotland, Richard Keen QC.

Over the course of four days from Monday, they will seek to persuade 11 Supreme Court judges to overturn the decision, but no judgement is expected until the New Year.

The ruling will be broadcast live and the president of the court, Lord Neuberger, will explain the reasoning behind it.

The judgement risks derailing the Prime Minister’s vow to trigger Article 50 before the end of March and according to reports, ministers have said there is an “expectation” the Government will lose the appeal.

Earlier this week, one law professor predicted that the PM would lose “11-0” when the justices in the Supreme Court reach a decision.

Professor Michael Zander QC said the High Court judges who ruled Ms May could not act alone when triggering Article 50 had given a “unanimous and very strong” decision.

Around 80 MPs are expected to vote against the legislation in the Commons, including newly elected Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney.

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