Supreme Court Set for Landmark Brexit Ruling
The Supreme Court is set to rule whether ministers or parliament have any legal authority to make a Brexit decision.
At 9.30 GMT on Tuesday, the court’s president, Lord Neuberger, will read out a carefully crafted summary of the decision. Lawyers representing the two parties have already seen the ruling.
The government’s argument has been that ministers have a legal obligation to decide on Brexit. However, opponents are of the opinion that they need an approval from Parliament before Article 50 is triggered.
In case the ministers lose this appeal, Theresa May will have to wait for parliament’s vote on Article 50. This could delay the process already set to begin at the end of March.
One thing to note is that this decision does not overturn the referendum results. It only determines which course exit from the EU will be followed.
According to Theresa May’s major speech on Brexit, Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty should be triggered by the end of March. That will set in train negotiations over the terms of the UK’s exit.
Five Minute Ruling
Lord Neuberger’s ruling is expected to last for 5 minutes. The justices had heard the petition for four days in December 2016.
Public members have been invited to attend and will have seats within the courtroom. Two adjacent rooms will also be used. The allocation is on a first-come first-served basis beginning from 09:00 GMT.
Hairdresser Deir Tozetti Dos Santos and investment manager Gina Miller first brought the case against the government in court.
The government lawyers’ argument is that ministers require the Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50.
The Royal Prerogative is an executive power to make and break treaties. The lawyers went on to argue that parliament knowingly passed the legislation for the referendum. They did not seek for the final say.
But lawyers on the opposite side feel that ministers cannot change the UK constitution. Their argument is that only an act of Parliament has the power to break the rights and laws established over the past four decades.
Largest Panel Ever
The 11 justices’ panel is the largest is the largest ever assembled to listen to a single case. Such judicial mass mobilization is recognition of the constitutional significance and political sensitivity of the hearing. In normal cases, the panel usually consists of 5 members. It is preferred to have an odd-number panel to avoid a tie.
Considering that each of the justices may have separate dissenting, the full document could be over 100 pages.
What happens if the Government loose?
If the lead claimant in the Supreme Court case Gina Miller wins, the government will have to publish legislation asking Parliament to trigger Article 50.
Brexit Secretary David Davis will make an announcement to the Commons explaining government’s actions.
While speaking to media outlets, the complainant said that her aim is not to frustrate Brexit. Her aim is to ensure that the government comes up with a legislation that blocks any “come back” plan.
But the High Court received criticism after it upheld Ms Miller’s case. The Daily Mail referred to the judges “enemies of the people.”
Scotland’s Brexit minister Mike Russell has been at the forefront in the matter, declaring that at no circumstances will SNP’s 54 MPs triggering Article 50.
But the government will smoothly sail through the Commons vote. Here, 329 Conservative MPs will back Theresa May’s plans.