The UK parliament will “very likely” need to approve any official deal with the European Union following Brexit, a government lawyer told Britain’s High Court on Tuesday (18 October).
James Eadie said the government believed any such agreement “would be subject to ratification” as he defended Prime Minister’s Theresa May’s right to start negotiations for Britain to leave the EU without a vote in parliament.
Supporters of Britain’s EU membership launched the High Court bid to challenge May’s assertion that she has the right to use “historic prerogative powers” – a type of executive privilege – to trigger notification of Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which would spark two years of negotiations on Britain’s departure from the bloc.
The hearings closed Tuesday, and the leading judges promised to “take time to consider the matter and give our judgment as quickly as possible.”
The challenge could delay Brexit if successful and set up an unprecedented constitutional face-off between the courts and the government.
It was launched after Britain’s June 23 referendum, which saw 52% of Britons vote to leave the European Union.
Those behind the legal challenge – including an investment fund manager, a hairdresser and an expatriate living in France – argue Article 50 cannot be triggered without a law passed by parliament.
“This is not about whether we should stay or leave – this is actually about how we leave,” Gina Miller, co-founder of investment fund SCM Private, told AFP.
The fund manager is being represented by Mishcon de Reya, a prestigious law firm whose offices were picketed by pro-Brexit campaigners in July for taking on the case shortly after the referendum.
May has accused the claimants of trying to “subvert” the result of the referendum.
The British premier has promised to start Brexit procedures by the end of March 2017, a timetable which could be delayed for months if Miller and her fellow claimants win their case.