Supreme court ruling blow for government ministers… and Nicola Sturgeon
Meanwhile Liz Truss has decided to finally speak up for judges.
The supreme court has dealt blow to Theresa May by ruling that parliament’s approval is needed before the government can trigger article 50.
In their eagerly-awaited verdict, the justices ruled against the government by a majority of eight to three. It means that ministers will now have to bring a bill to parliament before beginning the formal process of leaving the European Union.
Attorney general Jeremy Wright said the government was “disappointed” by the supreme court ruling but would comply with it.
The shadow justice secretary and lord chancellor Liz Truss also reacted swiftly to the verdict.
Last year, Truss was widely criticised for failing to stand up for judges after the Daily Mail controversially denounced them as “enemies of the people”. But this morning she was keen to talk up the supreme court justices.
Truss said: “Our independent judiciary is the cornerstone of the rule of law and is vital to our constitution and our freedoms. The reputation of our judiciary is unrivalled the world over, and our supreme court justices are people of integrity and impartiality.
“While we may not always agree with judgments, it is a fundamental part of any thriving democracy that legal process is followed. The government has been clear that it will respect the decision of the court.”
There was also bad news for the SNP as the supreme court ruled that ministers “are not legally compelled” to get consent from the devolved assemblies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to hold a Holyrood vote on the matter regardless of the ruling, having argued that the wishes of Scots to stay in the EU are being ignored. “It's getting hard not to feel like the PM has her fingers in her ears when it comes to Scotland,” Sturgeon recently claimed.
In his response to the verdict, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The Government has today been forced by the Supreme Court to accept the sovereignty of Parliament. Labour respects the result of the referendum and the will of the British people and will not frustrate the process for invoking Article 50. However, Labour will seek to amend the Article 50 Bill to prevent the Conservatives using Brexit to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven off the coast of Europe.”
And Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron confirmed his party would vote against article 50 unless people were given another vote on the final deal.
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