Attorney General: High Court judges relegated Brexit vote "almost to a footnote"

 
Rebecca Smith
The government's chief legal adviser has submitted an argument ahead of next week's hearing in Supreme Court
The government's chief legal adviser has submitted an argument ahead of next week's hearing in Supreme Court (Source: Getty)

The Attorney General is gearing up for a Brexit battle next week, as he argues the government's case that the referendum outcome should not be relegated "almost to a footnote".

Jeremy Wright, the government's top legal officer, is heading to the Supreme Court where the hearing will decide whether the Prime Minister is entitled to trigger formal divorce proceedings between the UK and the European Union under Article 50.

Court documents from the government say judges shouldn't dismiss the referendum as "merely a 'political event'" and note their decision is not made in a "vacuum".

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Wright will outline the arguments on Monday when he appears in court to start the hearing. All sides have submitted written arguments ahead of the case.

Ministers want to trigger Article 50 without approval from parliament as a necessity. But last month, High Court judges backed claimants who argued a vote from MPs and peers is needed before talks can commence.

Read more: Article 50 case outcome could delay Brexit, Supreme Court judge cautions

The case was brought to court by a number of parties, but the lead claimant was fund boss Gina Miller. On the steps of the High Court after the ruling she said: "This result today is about all of us: our United Kingdom and our futures. It is not about how any of us voted – each of us voted to do what we believed was the right thing for our country."

She added that the case "is about process, not politics".

Over the course of four days, 11 Supreme Court judges will listen to the arguments, though no judgement is expected until the New Year. The ruling will be broadcast live.

Theresa May has remained confident of triggering Article 50 by March 2017, though she may be waylaid depending on the judgement.

Part of the government's evidence:

"Whilst the Secretary of State relies upon long-standing and well-established principles regarding exercise of the foreign affairs prerogative, the supposed conflict between those principles and the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty cannot be resolved in a vacuum, without regard to the outcome of the referendum.

It is submitted that the Divisional Court was wrong to relegate, almost to a footnote, the outcome of the referendum and to dismiss it as merely "a political event" which was of no significance to the question before it."

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