Scotland seeks to block Brexit talks without its approval
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 quickie 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 percent 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.
In this Feb. 29 photo, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, delivers a keynote address on the benefits of EU membership for work and living standards at an event hosted by the Resolution Foundation at St John’s in London.