The Scottish government is seeking to intervene in the Brexit appeal at the Supreme Court, requesting an order from the court forcing the British government to get the approval of the regional governments before triggering Article 50, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
Speaking at her residence in Edinburgh, the First Minister announced that Lord Advocate James Wolffe, Scotland’s most senior law officer, will lodge a formal application asking for leave to make representations in the case, the Telegraph has reported.
The Supreme Court is due to hear an appeal by the government to a High Court ruling which found that Parliamentary approval is required before Article 50 can in invoked.
Sturgeon refused to go into the detail of what the Lord Advocate will argue, but insisted that Holyrood must also grant “consent” before Article 50 can be triggered. Although the majority of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) opposed Brexit, Sturgeon insisted that the right would not be a de facto veto.
“When you read the High Court judgment last week and all the rights that are affected by the triggering of Article 50, then it doesn’t take much to see the rights that are then affected in Scotland,” she said. “It strikes in many ways right at the heart of the devolution settlement.
“So I believe that as a matter of politics and as a matter of fairness and respect to the devolution settlement, before we even get into matters of law which are not for me to determine, then it is inconceivable that the UK Government would try to ignore or not seek the approval of the Scottish Government.
“And while I don’t speak for them, I believe there are those both in the Welsh Government and indeed in the Northern Irish Government who would take a similar view about their own parliaments.”
The Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking during a trip to India, dismissed suggestions that permission ought to be sought, saying: “Remember Parliament gave the choice to the people, Parliament voted six to one to say to the British people ‘What is your view? Should we remain or should we leave?’
“I’m determined we are going to deliver what the British people want, and that is what they said they wanted in the referendum on June 23.”
She added: “I think what we need to do now is not focus on what happened during the campaign.
“People voted on whether or not they wanted to leave the EU. They voted to leave the EU and what I’m focusing on now and what I’m determined to do is to deliver on that and make a success of it.
“That’s why I’m here in India looking at the trade relationships we can develop with other countries around the world. I’m going to deliver on global Britain – more jobs, more investment, more trade for British business.”
The Scottish Government’s intervention follow’s Sturgeon’s warning that a second referendum on Scottish independence is now ‘highly likely’.
She said: “Let me be clear – I recognise and respect the right of England and Wales to leave the European Union. This is not an attempt to veto that process.
“But the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and the national Parliament of Scotland cannot be brushed aside as if they do not matter.”
She continued: “The Prime Minister said that on June 23 people across the UK had voted with, in her words, ’emphatic clarity’ when they voted by a margin of four points to leave the EU.
“The margin for Remain in Scotland was 24 points – a far more emphatic and clear result.
“So the Prime Minister needs to live up to her promise to treat Scotland as an equal partner in the United Kingdom and listen to the will of the people of Scotland.”
A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: “It is for the Court to decide on whether this intervention will be granted. As we have already said, we believe we have strong grounds for appeal and we are pressing ahead with this.
“We have been clear that the result of the UK-wide referendum should be respected, and that no part of the UK can have a veto. However, we are determined to deliver a deal that works for the whole of the UK. We will continue to engage with the Scottish Government and look forward to further discussions in the Joint Ministerial Committee meeting tomorrow.”