Scotland and Wales to enter Brexit lawsuit
The UK Supreme Court confirmed on Nov. 18 that Scotland and Wales may intervene in an upcoming hearing that will determine whether Prime Minister Theresa May has the power to take the UK out of the EU without a parliamentary vote. Earlier this month the High Court ruled that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows for the UK's exit from the EU, can only be triggered by a vote of the British Parliament. The UK government immediately appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, with Scotland and Wales demanding intervention soon after. While the two countries had their lawyers attend the previous hearing, they will now be allowed to argue how triggering Article 50 without their parliaments' consent will infringe upon their governments' rights and powers. The UK government continues to argue that it has exclusive control over foreign affairs and legal treaties. The three parties will argue their stances at the hearing scheduled for early December.
After a majority of the British voters voted to leave the EU in June 2016, a host of legal issues have arisen regarding the legal significance of the referendum. The referendum is not legally binding, but then-prime minister David Cameron had pledged to carry out the result of the referendum. Further complicating matters is the fact that both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU and have announced intentions to possibly leave the UK. Last month the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland dismissed a challenge to the "Brexit" referendum alleging that it was not binding on Northern Ireland.
From Jurist, Nov. 19. Used with permission.
UK top court rules parliament must vote on Brexit
The UK Supreme Court ruled (PDF) Jan. 24 that parliament must vote on leaving the EU. The 8-3 decision is not expected to change the ultimate outcome of Britain leaving the EU, but instead creates uncertainty as to when the process will begin. The court cited (PDF) constitutional requirements to support its ruling. (Jurist)
UK Supreme Court judge defends Brexit decision
The president of the UK Supreme Court on Feb. 16 defended the court's ruling that only Parliament can activate the Article 50 mechanism to leave the EU. Lord Neuberger, when asked if he felt that politicians were needlessly interfering with a political decision that the nation had made, said:
Last week the House of Commons voted 494-122 to give Prime Minister Theresa May authority to formally begin the Brexit process. (Jurist)
Scotland leader calls for new independence referendum
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, said March 13 that she will seek a referendum to allow Scottish citizen to vote on independence from the UK ahead of the British exit from the EU. This would be the first referendum on independence for Scotland since September 2014, when citizens voted to remain in the UK. Sturgeon said she will request approval from UK Prime Minister Theresa May for a referendum vote through a Section 30 order. May has not indicated whether she would grant such an approval, although she has voiced opposition to another referendum, saying it "would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time." Noting that Scottish voters were opposed to Brexit, with 62% in favor of the UK remaining in the EU, Sturgeon has said she wants a vote on independence to occur between fall of 2018 and spring of 2019, once the Brexit process becomes more clear. (Jurist, March 13)
Independent city-state of Liverpool?
It isn't just Scotland and Wales—there are signs that England itself could break up. Following the disastrous election results in the UK, cemeting in power the Tories' fascistic Boris Johnson, Liverpool Echo reports that the hashtag #ScouseNotEnglish has been going viral in Merseyside, which overwhelmingly voted Labor.
'Hard Brexit' narrowly avoided
The United Kingdom formally exited the European Union on the stroke of the New Year with parliament ratifying a new law to govern ties with the continental body. The EU (Future Relationship) Act of 2020 received the Queen’s Royal Assent after getting approval from both houses of parliament late Sec. 30.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recalled parliament from recess to vote on the historic agreement he had signed with the EU, aiming to avoid a disruptive "no-deal" breakup following the announcement of the trade deal reached with the European Commission earlier in the week. The House of Commons overwhelmingly endorsedthe deal by 521 votes to 73 before it received approval in the House of Lords.
In a speech before the House of Commons before the crucial vote, Johnson said, "having taken back control of our money, our borders, our laws and our waters by leaving the European Union on Jan 31st, we now seize the moment to forge a fantastic new relationship with our European neighbours, based on free trade and friendly cooperation."
"The EU law will no longer have any special status in the UK, and there is no jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice. We will be able to design our own standards and regulations," Johnson emphasized.
The Prime Minister went on to insist that farmers stood to benefit greatly from leaving the EU Common Agricultural Policy and that, over the next five and a half years, the UK stands to regain around two-thirds of its share of fishing as it reasserts its sovereignty over its coastal waters. (Jurist)
Scotland court rejects case seeking new independence vote
Scotland's Court of Session dismissed a case Feb. 5 asserting that Scotland could hold another independence referendum without the approval of the UK. The case, brought by Martin Keatings, an advocate for Scottish independence, was a long-shot effort to overturn results of the 2014 referendum, when Scots voted to stay in the UK by a 55% majority.
Keatings indicated that he will appeal the decision, tweeting that he intends to take the case to the Inner House of the Court of Session, which serves as a court of appeal. (Jurist)
France threatens to cut power to Channel Islands
A major trade dispute has broken out between the UK and France after Paris banned British fishing boats from key ports and vowed to impose onerous checks on cross-Channel trade. In the dispute over post-Brexit rights to British waters by the French fishing fleet, Paris has threatened to cut energy supplies to the Channel Islands—which are administrated by the UK but dependent on France for electricity. (The Guardian, The Guardian, France24)
Scotland to hold UK independence vote in 2023
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on June 28 announced a new referendum for Scottish independence to be held in October 2023. Sturgeon made the announcement as the Scottish parliament passed a referendum bill on independence. (Jurist)
High court: Scotland independence vote needs UK approval
The Scottish Parliament does not have the unilateral power to call a second independence referendum but must seek prior approval from Westminster, the UK Supreme Court said in a judgement issued Nov. 23. (Jurist)