Tories urge Theresa May to cancel her appeal against Brexit High Court judgment

MPs from across the party have said the appeal is likely not winnable

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Saturday 19 November 2016 13:32
The appeal is set to be be heard by judges at the Supreme Court on 5 December
The appeal is set to be be heard by judges at the Supreme Court on 5 December

A number of senior Conservative MPs have urged Theresa May to cancel the Government’s appeal against the High Court’s judgment on the triggering of Article 50.

Judges ruled at the start of this month that the Prime Minister had to gain Parliament’s consent to begin EU negotiations – putting Ms May on a collision course with pro-EU Tories in Parliament.

The Government is appealing the decision at the Supreme Court, with a hearing due at the start of December – but senior Tories now say the appeal should be cancelled.

Sir Oliver Letwin, the former head of the Government’s Brexit Unit, said the Government should bring a “fast and tightly time-tabled” bill to the House of Commons and the House of Lords instead of continuing with its legal route.

Proceeding with the appeal would “accord the devolved administrations some rights or even some veto powers over triggering Article 50,” he warned – noting that this week the Scottish and Welsh governments were granted the right to intervene in the case.

Dominic Grieve, a longstanding supporter of European cooperation, said he saw little chance of success for the Government’s appeal and little chance of the Parliamentary route failing.

“I can’t see the point in the Government continuing with the case and also agree that if they enact primary legislation, they will get it through Parliament,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programe.

Fellow Tory MP Mark Garnier said ditching the appeal would “avoid an unnecessary legal row”.

“You also avoid an opportunity for ill-motivated people to attack the judiciary, to misconstrue the motives of both parties to the lawsuit, and you provide certainty,” he said.

Longstanding eurosceptic Owen Paterson added: “I’m not a lawyer and I’m not an expert on this but, I wouldn’t have a bet on the Government winning this one.

“It is not good to have a confrontation with the courts.”

Oliver Letwin led David Cameron’s briefly-constituted Brexit Unit

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has pledged to lead a march of tens of thousands of people on the Supreme Court in protest of the previous court ruling.

The Daily Mail newspaper branded the High Court judges who made the initial ruling “enemies of the people”, while Brexit supporters posted death threats online.

A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said Government lawyers would “robustly defend” its position in the forthcoming appeal.

“The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by an act of parliament and the Government is determined to respect that result,” the spokesperson said.

“We will robustly defend our position in the forthcoming appeal. As the prime minister made clear [on Friday], our work is on track and we remain committed to triggering article 50 by the end of March next year.”

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