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Renegade lawyers at Slaughters and CMS lead campaign to get UK out of EU

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Lawyers for Britain rallies support for Brexit crusade

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The push for Brexit has been given some publicity from a traditionally shy quarter — the legal profession. The blast of heavyweight PR came this week when a new campaign group championed by top City lawyers was unveiled.

The group — named Lawyers for Britain — is led by Martin Howe QC, barrister at intellectual property set 8 New Square, whose practice encompasses EU law. Founding committee members, who want the UK to vote to leave the EU in June’s referendum, include Slaughter and May lawyer Eric Phillips and CMS Cameron McKenna associate Victoria Hewson.

Though it was formed just a few weeks ago, the message from Lawyers for Britain, outlined on its website, is clear:

We believe that there needs to be a fundamental change in Britain’s relationship with the EU. This cannot be achieved unless we vote to leave the current Treaties, and then build a new and constructive relationship which preserves our trading links but restores our ability to be governed by our own laws.

The reasons driving the group’s Brexit ambitions are plenty: EU supremacy harms UK democracy, the remoteness and complexity of the EU law-making process and the EU’s slow reform process are just some of the reasons given.

Lawyers for Britain’s website boasts that “dozens” of British lawyers have joined the crusade, which directly opposes the pro-Bremain stance adopted by fellow lawyer-led campaign groups National Voter Registration Drive and Lawyers — In for Britain.

Lawyers across the country have been unusually vocal about their Brexit views, many taking to social media to nail their colours to the mast. The majority have come out in support of remaining in Europe.

Though others have proven less decisive.

Neither Slaughter and May nor CMS Cameron McKenna have officially come out in favour of Brexit or Bremain, but no doubt each firm will note its lawyers’ campaign activities with interest. Meanwhile, stand by for more lawyerly input in the coming months on the first EU referendum since 1975.