Scotland and Wales to enter Brexit lawsuit

The UK Supreme Court confirmed on Nov. 18 that Scotland and Wales may intervene in an upcoming hearing that will determine whether Prime Minister Theresa May has the power to take the UK out of the EU without a parliamentary vote. Earlier this month the High Court ruled that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows for the UK's exit from the EU, can only be triggered by a vote of the British Parliament. The UK government immediately appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, with Scotland and Wales demanding intervention soon after. While the two countries had their lawyers attend the previous hearing, they will now be allowed to argue how triggering Article 50 without their parliaments' consent will infringe upon their governments' rights and powers. The UK government continues to argue that it has exclusive control over foreign affairs and legal treaties. The three parties will argue their stances at the hearing scheduled for early December.

After a majority of the British voters voted to leave the EU in June 2016, a host of legal issues have arisen regarding the legal significance of the referendum. The referendum is not legally binding, but then-prime minister David Cameron had pledged to carry out the result of the referendum. Further complicating matters is the fact that both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU and have announced intentions to possibly leave the UK. Last month the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland dismissed a challenge to the "Brexit" referendum alleging that it was not binding on Northern Ireland.

From Jurist, Nov. 19. Used with permission.

UK top court rules parliament must vote on Brexit

The UK Supreme Court ruled (PDF) Jan. 24 that parliament must vote on leaving the EU. The 8-3 decision is not expected to change the ultimate outcome of Britain leaving the EU, but instead creates uncertainty as to when the process will begin. The court cited (PDF) constitutional requirements to support its ruling. (Jurist)

UK Supreme Court judge defends Brexit decision

The president of the UK Supreme Court on Feb. 16 defended the court's ruling that only Parliament can activate the Article 50 mechanism to leave the EU. Lord Neuberger, when asked if he felt that politicians were needlessly interfering with a political decision that the nation had made, said:

We were doing what our job requires us to do, which is taking a case ... and dealing with it according to the law, and answering the issues that were presented to us according to the law.

Last week the House of Commons voted 494-122 to give Prime Minister Theresa May  authority to formally begin the Brexit process. (Jurist)

Scotland leader calls for new independence referendum

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, said March 13 that she will seek a referendum to allow Scottish citizen to vote on independence from the UK ahead of the British exit from the EU. This would be the first referendum on independence for Scotland since September 2014, when citizens voted to remain in the UK. Sturgeon said she will request approval from UK Prime Minister Theresa May for a referendum vote through a Section 30 order. May has not indicated whether she would grant such an approval, although she has voiced opposition to another referendum, saying it "would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time." Noting that Scottish voters were opposed to Brexit, with 62% in favor of the UK remaining in the EU, Sturgeon has said she wants a vote on independence to occur between fall of 2018 and spring of 2019, once the Brexit process becomes more clear. (Jurist, March 13)