Court told Brexit vote was ‘il­le­gal’

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By AN­GUS HOWARTH

The UK’S vote to leave the EU was not demo­cratic be­cause of “cor­rupt and il­le­gal prac­tices”, the High Court has heard.

Lawyers for a group of British ex-pats who want to halt Brexit told a judge in Lon­don yes­ter­day that breaches of spend­ing lim­its by pro-leave or­gan­i­sa­tions meant the 2016 ref­er­en­dum was not a “free and fair vote”.

Jes­sica Si­mor QC, rep­re­sent­ing the UK in EU Chal­lenge group, said it was es­sen­tial votes were car­ried out law­fully and “free of cor­rupt and il­le­gal prac- tices”. She added: “Le­gal­ity is … es­sen­tial to le­git­i­macy, with­out which the EU ref­er­en­dum 2016 re­sult can­not be con­sid­ered ‘demo­cratic’ in any sense of the word.”

Vote Leave was fined £61,000 and re­ferred to the po­lice while Leave.eu was fined £70,000 fol­low­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion.

The group ar­gues these elec­toral of­fences ren­der both the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum, and the no­ti­fi­ca­tion to leave the EU un­der Ar­ti­cle 50, void.

Ms Si­mor said the case they are bring­ing against Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May was one of “grave con­sti­tu­tional im­por­tance”. Ask­ing Mr Jus­tice Ouse­ley to grant per­mis­sion for a full ju­di­cial re­view, the bar­ris­ter said: “Cor­rup­tion and il­le­gal­ity in the course of a ref­er­en­dum must have con­se­quences in terms of the re­sult.”

She later added: “This is a chal­lenge, there­fore, to the Prime Min­is­ter’s staunch and un­flinch­ing re­fusal even to con­sider the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion’s find­ings … and the re­fer­ral of var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions to the Metropoli­tan Po­lice.”

Lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Mrs May are urg­ing the judge to re­ject the case, say­ing it is “unar­guable”.

James Eadie QC said the “world has now moved many miles on” and that Par­lia­ment is “ac­tively en­gaged” in the is­sues re­lat­ing to Brexit.”

amid claims the DUP will aban­don Theresa May in a con­fi­dence mo­tion next week after the vote on her Brexit deal

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