Scotland bids to join Brexit court battle

Edinburgh (AFP) –


The Scottish government will seek to join the legal challenge against the British government's decision to trigger Brexit without a parliamentary vote, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Tuesday.

The High Court of England and Wales ruled last week that London must gain approval from lawmakers before triggering Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon treaty, which begins Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May's appeal is expected to be heard next month in the Supreme Court, Britain's highest court, and Sturgeon announced that Scotland's top lawyer had applied to join the case.

"I am confirming today that the Lord Advocate will make an application to the Supreme Court to intervene in the appeal proceeding to be brought by the UK government after the Article 50 ruling at the High Court," she said.

She added: "The Scottish government is clear that triggering Article 50 will directly affect interests and rights in Scotland, and triggering Article 50 will inevitably deprive Scottish people and Scottish businesses of the rights that they currently enjoy."

The High Court ruled that May's government could not use its power of royal prerogative to trigger Article 50, because the process would involve stripping Britons of certain rights -- something only parliament can do.

London is appealing the ruling and the hearing is expected to be held early December, with a final decision likely "soon after", Brexit minister David Davis said Monday.

Sturgeon leads a semi-autonomous administration in Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament is usually asked for its consent on any British laws that impact on their devolved powers.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, but was outvoted by more populous areas elsewhere in Britain.

"I recognise and respect the rights of England and Wales to leave the European Union," Sturgeon said.

"This is not an attempt to veto that process, but the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and the views of the national parliament in Scotland cannot simply be brushed aside as if they don’t matter."

Sturgeon's Scottish National Party (SNP) has threatened a fresh vote on independence from the rest of the UK if Scotland cannot keep its ties with the EU after Brexit.