ARTICLE 50 SUPREME COURT: Ministers will decide on result in January
The Supreme Court sits for the final day in this landmark Article 50 case
KEY POINTS TODAY:
– Triggering Brexit without giving the devolved assemblies in Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh the chance to deliberate it would risk damaging Britain’s unwritten constitution, the court heard.
– It was argued that Government’s prerogative rights have been eroded for generations so they should not be suddenly increased now
– The 11 judges heard how the rights of foreign nationals living in Britain could be affected by the EU exit, so parliament should have a say on that
– The Supreme Judges will make their decision in January
16:08 FINAL UPDATE
Mr Eadie presents the Parliamentary motion to the Supreme Court justices.
Prior to adjourning the court after four days of legal argument, Lord Neuberger said: “It bears repeating that we are not asked to overturn the Referendum.
“it is about the process by which that result can lawfully be brought into effect.
“As we have heard, that question raises important constitutional issues and we’ll now take time to ensure the many arguments which have been presented to us orally and in writing are given full and proper consideration.
“We appreciate this case should be resolved as quickly as possible and we’ll do our best to achieve that.”
The Supreme Justices will make their decision by mid to late January.
Gina Miller, the lead claimant in the successful High Court action before the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, said after the Supreme Court hearing: “The tone of this week’s proceedings from everyone involved and many parts of the media showed respect, civility and professionalism and I very much hope that this will continue throughout the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.”
Ms Miller, an investment fund manager and philanthropist who had endured death threats during the High Court hearing, added: “As my counsel Lord Pannick said, the constitutional elephant in the room remains – to give notice under Article 50 using the prerogative is an affront to parliamentary sovereignty.”
Mr Eadie claims that the government’s withdrawal from the European Free Trade Association is an example of leaving a treaty with a consequence on domestic rights without getting consent from parliament.
Mr Eadie said: “The 2015 European Union Referendum Act speaks volumes about the intention of parliament.
“It left the royal prerogative power to give notice in the hands of the government.”
The QC says that Article 50 is about withdrawing from the EU.
He said: “It’s absolutely obvious that if Article 50 notice is given, the process of withdrawal is commenced, the bullet is fired at the target, with all the potential effects that has on directly effected rights and obligations.
Mr Eadie said the vote on Brexit is highly “significant” but not “legally binding”.
James Eadie QC speaking in the Supreme Court
He said: “It is not just whether but it is how parliament is to be involved”
The QC says that the 1972 European Communities Act was not seeking to control the Royal prerogative but is legislation designed to implement UK treaty obligations.
He said: “I have to show that the nature of the parliamentary intervention in this context from 1972 onwards allows the government to continue to exercise its prerogative powers on the international plain.”
The QC also made it clear that the EU law is not the law of the land.
James Eadie QC took some criticism for an underwhelming performance on the first day of the Supreme Court case, but he’s finishing strongly here.
He is trying to make the point that Britain’s constitution, because it is uncodified (not written down in one place), it relies heavily on circumstance.
He says it is impossible to try to apply string, rigid constitutional laws onto the British constitution which is fluid by nature.
Therefore, there has to be an element of trust between the Remain camp and the Government – where there is a grey area on devolved rights, human rights, etc…the Government will behave accordingly.
Lord Sumption delighted the nation yesterday by wearing a vivd Team GB tie, but he has toned it down today unfortunately.
The Lords have grilled Lord Keen about his argument that the devolved Governments around the United Kingdom cannot delay Article 50.
He has concluded and James Eadie QC is now concluding for the Government.
Mr Eadie QC begins: “We do not assert and our case does not entail the desire to change the dangerous dogs act, we do not assert a general power to alter the laws of the land but we do assert a specific power to notify under Article 50 to begin the notification of withdrawal.
“It is plain that Parliament can intervene in a particular context to set up domestic law and to cater for its alteration as it sees fit. Nobody denies its sovereignty to do that.
“Under our constitution there are other sources of power. Other organs of the state that share the responsibility of the Government.”
Lord Sumption delighted the nation with his expressive Team GB tie yesterday
14.43 UPDATE: BREXIT FIGHTS BACK
In an unscheduled development, Lord Keen, who you may remember as the Scottish gentleman who is arguing that the Government can invoke Article 50 of its own accord, is attempting to shoot down the Remain camp’s argument that it must go through parliament.
He is arguing against the notion that the devolved powers of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales do not have the power to hold up Brexit.
He said the Scotland act permits the British government to make changes regarding the impact of EU law in domestic law, regardless of the devolved powers.
It’s a big moment in the case – if Lord Keen is believed by the judges then the Sewel Convention, which has been at the centre of the Remain camp’s argument, is rendered null and void.
The case has started again after lunch for what will be the final session of this historic constitutional hearing.
The court is currently hearing about how the rights of expats not living abroad might be impacted upon by Article 50.
Mr Gill QC says Brexit made it uncertain whether foreigners will be able to stay in Britain
11.57 UPDATE: PACK YOUR BAGS AND GET READY TO GO HOME
Manjit Gill QC is speaking on behalf of certain EEA nationals, is now trying to make the point that this is actually an open and shut case – the Government simply doesn’t have the power to invoke Article 50.
He also says it causes unecessary harm to European nationals living in Britain.
Mr Gill QC called the case “a red herring”, “not a hard case” based on a “very clear constitutional point”.
It sends a message to EEA citizens that “they should pack their bags and prepare to go home”, according to the QC acting on behalf of Gina Miller.
Ms Mountfield came out with an unusual comment during the Supreme Court case
Ms Mountfield QC makes the point that Governments have used prerogative less and less since the 18th Century.
It was used at the end of the Seven Years War and with regard to King George III and the colonies.
She is attempting to argue that prerogative powers have been eroded over time and that they should not suddenly be enlarged now to the extent where Government could invoke Article 50 by itself.
Helen Mountfield QC’s arguments can be seen in full here:
Who said the entire Supreme Court case was stuffy and boring? There has been a very modern twist.
Crowdfunding has paid for Helen Mountfield QC, currently speaking, to take up the case on behalf of the People’s Challenge QC.
She is making the point that the Government’s legal mouthpiece, Mr James Eadie QC, is guilty of “judicial overstretch” – asking whether ministers have the power to trigger Brexit may, it turns out, not actually be a question for the court.
Helen Mountfield QC was crowdfunded in order to make her case against the Government
Mr Rozenberg, a top legal mind, has his say on proceedings
Laughter reverberates around the courtroom as Mr Gordon QC, who has certainly woken everyone up this morning, makes a comment about the European Union Referendum Act 2015.
He said: “The Referendum Act of 2015 has nothing to do with the issues in this case. It’s a statute that had died. It has fulfilled its purpose. You cannot revive a corpse by tearing up the death certificate.”
Mr Gordon QC tells the 11 Law Lords in the Supreme Court: “The Brexit vote split the UK, it split it into four parts. We have absolutely no quarrel with the vote …but it is the most divisive political event that has happened over the past four decades and who is to determine what happens next…it must be parliament.”
He believes in order to come to a decision of such magnitude that has such a wide-ranging social impact across the whole of the UK, it must be the public’s representatives in Parliament who have a say on Article 50 and not the Government alone.
Richard Gordon QC making his point at the Supreme Court
Richard Gordon QC for the Welsh government says the argument being posed on Article 50 “could be understood by a 6-year-old”.
Making reference to the fact that the Government’s powers are limited when it comes to invoking Article 50, the legal boffin said: “If you tell a six-year-old that they cannot go outside to play in the garden then he hasn’t got any power to go outside and play in the garden.”
Basically, Mr Gordon QC is saying the Government does not have the power to plough ahead with the EU exit without going through Parliament and, in plain black and white, it is as simple as that.
But the judges may think differently.
He also makes the submission that Government’s prerogative powers (which let it behave autonimously) cannot be used to dispose of laws or “crucify rights” – a reference to how leaving the EU would mean elements of many laws currently in place and the current guarantees on the protection of human rights would no longer be in force.
Welsh representative acting on behalf of Remainer Gina Miller pledges his support for Britain leaving the EU.
He said: “The result of the referendum to leave the EU should be respected.
“Wales voted to leave the European Union. Wales is not here because it wants to stop or stall the implementation of Brexit, but becuase the constitutional issues at stake go way beyond Brexit.”
Never before has such a short sentence caused so much fuss.
The Sewel convention, which relates to whether or not the devolved Scottish powers give the nation a say in blocking Article 50, states: “Westminster would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish parliament.”
For a significant chunk of two out of the three days of this case the judges and legal representatives from both sides have argued about what the word “normally” means.
They have also squabbled about what the term “with regard to”.
It seems trivial but the judges need to know exactly what their remit is – the upshot? It is not for the judges to say what is “normal” but they can still “regard” the case.
Is it any wonder this case is always running behind schedule?
James Wolfe QC, the lord advocate for the Scottish government, makes his case
10.26 UPDATE – BETTING ON BREXIT
The bookies are backing the Supreme Court to uphold Gina Miller’s case – that Article 50 should go through Parliament before being kick started.
Politicalbetting.com is showing a 74 per cent chance that the Government will lose its appeal.
William Hill are now offering odds of 5/2, a 28 per cent chance, that the government will successfully win their Supreme Court Article 50 appeal – it is 2/7 that they will lose.
Find out the latest odds on the Supreme Court ruling
Gina Miller, who brought the case against the Government and won the initial High Court case, arrives at the Supreme Court flanked by her usual array of bodyguards.
Gina Miller arrives at the Supreme Court
Congratulations on making it through the previous three days of legal small print. We are now entering the final day of the Government’s appeal to the Supreme Court on the grounds it believes it should be able to invoke Article 50 without the need to put it before Parliament.
The judges will retire for the final time this afternoon and deliver a verdict in January – a decision that will shape the way history views Britain’s EU exit