Scots are not claiming a Brexit veto, court hears

 
Billy Bambrough
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Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU referendum
Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU referendum (Source: Getty)

The Scottish government is not claiming a veto over the UK leaving the European Union, the Supreme Court heard today.

James Wolfe QC, the lord advocate for the Scottish government, told justices that Scotland’s consent still matters however because of the effect of withdrawal from the EU on its citizens.

This evening MPs overwhelmingly backed a motion calling on the government to publish its Brexit plans, while also making clear support for triggering Article 50 early next year as the challenge to Prime Minister Theresa May's plans rolls on in the Supreme Court, heading into its fourth and final day tomorrow.

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Some have suggested this vote could mean the government has ceded power to the people over the EU referendum.

Two justices today suggested that tonight’s parliamentary motion, which asks MPs to “respect the wishes of the United Kingdom” may preclude the need for legislation. They hypothesised that it may seem strange to odd-lawyers if the will of parliament was expressed by a motion but legislation was still needed.

In the second day of responses to the government’s defence of its Brexit plans, Northern Ireland’s Ronan Lavery QC argued withdrawing from the EU without its consent would be unconstitutional.

He told the justices there had been a transfer of sovereignty away from the UK parliament to the people of Northern Ireland under the devolution settlement.

Lord Pannick QC, arguing against the government on behalf of investment manager Gina Miller, faced challenges on the legal ramifications of the EU Referendum Act 2015.

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He claimed was of political, but not legal significance and did not ceded power to the people.

Court’s president Lord Neuberger suggested it may have been sufficient for the government to say it has ceded power to the people in the Referendum Act.

“It would be a bit surprising if the referendum act and the referendum had no effect in law,” said Neuberger.

Meanwhile, a man was arrested over alleged threats against Miller earlier today. Met Police officers arrested the man, 55, in Swindon on Monday on suspicion of racially-aggravated malicious communications, police said.

He was taken to a Wiltshire police station and later released on bail.

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