Scot­land to block talks on Brexit if not con­sulted

Supreme Court to look into rul­ing that Bri­tish Par­lia­ment must vote on leav­ing EU

Toronto Star - - NEWS - JILL LAW­LESS THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

LONDON— The Scot­tish govern­ment said Tues­day that it will ask Bri­tain’s Supreme Court to block Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May from trig­ger­ing Euro­pean Union exit talks with­out con­sult­ing the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment first — an­other po­ten­tial blow to May’s hopes of a quick di­vorce from the bloc.

The prime min­is­ter has said she plans to trig­ger two years of exit talks by in­vok­ing Ar­ti­cle 50 of the EU treaty be­fore the end of March.

But last week, the High Court com­pli­cated that plan, rul­ing in re­sponse to a le­gal chal­lenge that law­mak­ers in Bri­tain’s Par­lia­ment must first get a vote.

The govern­ment is ask­ing the Supreme Court to over­turn the judg­ment.

The court said Tues­day that it will hear the case Dec. 5-8.

In a re­flec­tion of the con­sti­tu­tional im­por­tance of the case, which hinges on the bal­ance of power be­tween Par­lia­ment and the ex­ec­u­tive, all 11 Supreme Court judges will hear the ap­peal.

Scot­tish First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon said Scot­land would also seek to in­ter­vene in the le­gal ac­tion, be­cause “the con­sent of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment should be sought be­fore Ar­ti­cle 50 is trig­gered.”

She said Scot­land’s top le­gal of­fi­cial, Lord Ad­vo­cate Frank Mul­hol­land, would make a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion to the top court.

Bri­tons voted by 52 to 48 per cent on June 23 to leave the EU, but vot­ers in Scot­land strongly backed stay­ing in.

Stur­geon, who heads the pro-in­de­pen­dence Scot­tish Na­tional Party, has said she may seek a man­date for in­de­pen­dence if Scot­land is forced out of the bloc and its sin­gle mar­ket of 500 mil­lion peo­ple.

Stur­geon noted that May has said Bri­tish peo­ple “had voted with, in her words, ‘em­phatic clar­ity’ when they voted by a mar­gin of 4 points to leave the EU.

“The mar­gin for ‘re­main’ in Scot­land was 24 points: a far more em­phatic and clear re­sult,” she said.

The Bri­tish govern­ment has told other Euro­pean lead­ers that the in­creas­ingly com­pli­cated le­gal sit­u­a­tion won’t de­lay its plan to trig­ger Ar­ti­cle 50 by March 31.

But the Supreme Court says it will likely not rule un­til early 2017, and if the govern­ment loses it will have lit­tle choice but to al­low Par­lia­ment to de­bate the sub­ject.

First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon says Scot­tish Par­lia­ment must give con­sent be­fore “Ar­ti­cle 50 is trig­gered.”

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