The UK’s 11 most senior judges have begun proceedings relating to whether or not parliament or the government has the right to trigger the Article 50 clause that would formally begin the UK’s exit from the European Union.
The 11 judges began proceedings this morning, at the Supreme Court, situated across the road from the UK government’s House of Commons, pictured above, that are expected to last until Thursday. The judges will then take a period, likely to be until early January, to reflect on the findings before making an ultimate decision on the matter. They will then meet up again and deliver their vote formally.
As reported, last month, the High Court at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, unanimously voted that parliament and not the UK government should vote to decide when to proceed with the recommendations made in June by the UK public that it should leave the EU. While extremely unlikely, UK parliament could legally decide not to enforce the referendum vote or even call for a second referendum on the matter, should the Supreme Court uphold the Royal Court of Justice’s decision.
UK prime minister Theresa May originally tried to invoke the prerogative powers, originally designed for kings or queens to be able make decisions without parliamentary debate, to force through a ‘hard Brexit’, triggering Article 50 as early as March next year, but was met with the legal challenge brought about by a group of individuals that states that she did not have the legal right to do so.
Losing the case has meant that a hard Brexit is now less likely as UK PM May will not able to force through the UK government’s plans as quickly as originally hoped due to delays brought about by the legal challenge.
More delays are likely be brought about by a parliamentary debate on the matter should the Supreme Court uphold the Royal Court of Justice decision. Despite favouring a remain decision in the public referendum the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has stated that it is likely the the Labour MPs would vote to ensure that Article 50 is indeed triggered.
However Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said that the Lib Dem MPs would vote against Article 50 if there is no new referendum on Brexit. The party has only eight MPs in the house of Commons but more than 100 peers in the House of Lords
The 11 judges, the most senior collection of judges gathered in the UK for more than 100 years, could also decide whether or not to pass the decision across to the European Supreme Court in Luxembourg to make the ultimate decision on how Article 50 is triggered. The Supreme Court has to have an odd number of judges on its panel so that any vote cannot be a tie.
Click here to watch live video footage of proceedings as they happen, live from the Supreme Court’s website, across the next few days.