Case to be heard in “early December”
The government has in the last hour officially confirmed that it will appeal a High Court judgment handed down last week which stated that Article 50 cannot be triggered without a vote in parliament.
Addressing a packed House of Commons this afternoon, David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, revealed that the Supreme Court had accepted a leapfrog appeal (which jumps the Court of Appeal) from the government, and will hopefully hear the matter in “early December, with a decision shortly after”.
Flanked by a rather glum looking Jeremy Wright QC, Davis claimed that the government’s timetable for triggering Article 50 in March 2017 remained on track in spite of last week’s setback.
On Thursday, sitting in Court Room 4 of the Royal Courts of Justice, the Lord Chief Justice — alongside Sir Terence Etherton and Lord Justice Sales — explained that the government’s arguments were “contrary to fundamental constitutional principles of the sovereignty of parliament”. As a result, the top legal trio ruled that Article 50 invocation must be conditional on parliamentary approval — i.e. it must be put to a vote.
As Legal Cheek reported late last week, the High Court decision did not sit well with certain sections of the British press.
Several newspapers, including the Mail Online, sparked outrage amongst lawyers after appearing to personally attack the judges involved. Branding Lord Thomas and co as “enemies of the people”, the Mail Online went as far as describing Etherton — who was recently installed as Master of the Rolls — as an “openly gay ex-Olympic fencer”.
'Openly gay'? Is it still 1950? https://t.co/RNrF1Dx8Lg
— Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) November 3, 2016
With rumours of a government appeal circulating within hours of the decision, it didn’t take long for the Mail — whose readership is notably pro-Brexit — to set its sights on the Supreme Court justices. In a series of follow up stories, it has since labelled Lady Hale a “radical feminist”, Lord Kerr as an “unashamed champion of the Human Rights Act” and Lord Reed as a “a Brussels man to his fingertips”.
Meanwhile, ex UKIP-leader and staunch Brexit supporter Nigel Farage revealed over the weekend plans to lead a 100,000-strong march to the Supreme Court on the day of the appeal hearing. Appearing on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show (video below) on Sunday — alongside the lead claimant in the Brexit case Gina Miller — Farage claimed that any attempt to overturn the referendum decision would create “political anger the likes of which none of us in our lifetimes have ever witnessed”.
Despite being 1-0 to the claimants, several of them have pre-empted the government’s appeal and started a fresh round of fundraising to cover the next stage of the legal battle. One group, known as the “The People’s Challenge to Article 50”, has already raised a whopping £136,000 via legal crowdfunding platform CrowdJustice since the decision was handed down on Thursday morning.
Grahame Pigney — who set up the page — said:
We will defend our position in the Supreme Court with the same vigour and commitment, and we are crowdfunding again to make sure we have the resources to best defend our case against the government.