“The government has been forced by a senior judge to reveal secret legal arguments for refusing to let parliament decide when and how the UK should withdraw from the European Union.
In a preliminary victory for those challenging Theresa May’s power to trigger Brexit, a high court judge, Mr Justice Cranston, has swept aside restrictions on publishing official documents before the hearing on 13 October.
In the released documents, lawyers for the government argue that it is “constitutionally impermissible” for parliament to be given the authority rather than the prime minister and dismiss any notion that the devolved nations – Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales – will have any say in the process”.
They add: “The appropriate point at which the UK should begin the procedure required by article 50 [of the European Union treaty] to give effect to [notifying the UK’s exit] is a matter of high, if not the highest policy.
“It is a polycentric decision based upon a multitude of domestic and foreign policy and political concerns for which the expertise of ministers and their officials are particularly well-suited and the courts ill-suited.”
Responding to the release of the skeleton arguments, John Halford, a solicitor partner at Bindmans law firm which represents the People’s Challenge, a crowd-funded group, said: “The court’s order allows a floodlight to be shone on the government’s secret reasons for believing it alone can bring about Brexit without any meaningful parliamentary scrutiny.
“Those who were unsettled by the government’s insistence on its defence being kept secret will now be surprised by the contents, including submissions that Brexit has nothing constitutionally to do with the Scottish and Northern Ireland devolved governments, that parliament ‘clearly understood’ it was surrendering any role it might have in Brexit by passing the EU Referendum Act, that it has no control over making and withdrawal from treaties and that individuals can have fundamental rights conferred by acts of parliament stripped away if and when the executive withdraws from the treaties on which they are based.
“These arguments will be tested in court next month, but now they can be debated by the public too.”
Yet here in East Devon we are not allowed to know anything about EDDC’s negotiations with PegasusLife. Strange that.