Scotland set to intervene in UK’s Brexit legal case

Lord Advocate James Wolffe will oppose the UK Government's bid to overturn the Brexit ruling. Picture: Greg Macvean
Lord Advocate James Wolffe will oppose the UK Government's bid to overturn the Brexit ruling. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Scotland will seek to intervene against the UK Government as it seeks to overturn a legal ruling that MPs must approve the formal triggering of Brexit, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced.

The Lord Advocate James Wolffe, Scotland’s most senior law officer, is to lodge a formal application at the Supreme Court to intervene in the case.

Ms Sturgeon said it “simply cannot be right” that rights linked to membership of the European Union “can be removed by the UK Government on the say-so of a Prime Minister without parliamentary debate, scrutiny or consent”.

The First Minister added: “So legislation should be required at Westminster and the consent of the Scottish Parliament should be sought before Article 50 is triggered.”

The move comes after the vote for Brexit put the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK under increasing pressure, with the SNP leader having already warned a second referendum on independence is now “highly likely”.

The First Minister said: “I recognise and respect the right of England and Wales to leave the EU. 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.”

While a majority of UK voters backed Brexit, 62 per cent of Scots voted to Remain. Ms Sturgeon said: “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.”

When pressed on the basis on which the Scottish Government will seek to involve itself in the case, she said: “It will be around the process for triggering Article 50 and obviously the central element of this case is the need for legislation . . . that raises the question of legislative consent, not just in the Scottish Parliament but Wales and Northern Ireland as well.

Ms Sturgeon dismissed suggestions the move would be seen by Leave voters as her government “interfering” in the process, saying: “This is part of our overall attempt to protect the will of the Scottish people.”

The First Minister also said Scottish Government plans to publish options for a separate Scottish Brexit settlement are not contingent on the outcome of the court case and the timetable for making those public by the end of the year remains on track.

Scottish Labour’s Europe spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: “Rather than spending the next six weeks appealing to the Supreme Court, the UK Government’s time would perhaps be better spent getting on with outlining a clear plan for Brexit.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “It is welcoming to see the First Minister join the legal action against the unjust and undemocratic use of the royal prerogative to invoke Article 50, even if she dragged her heels in doing so.”