Court told Brexit vote was ‘illegal’
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