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'Even Brexiteers should rejoice at Supreme Court ruling'- David Greene

3 February 2017

As a Brexiteer, my client, Deir Dos Santos, always said his motivation in bringing the challenge to the government's proposed triggering of the article 50 provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon was to ensure that lawful process applied to the UK's departure from the EU.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision vindicates his role in shining a spotlight on the rightful process as well as the role that the law plays in that political process.

This has been a unique and difficult fight where the legal issues were often clouded by a politically charged backdrop. Yet, as has been made clear by the courts, this is a case not about whether we should withdraw from the EU but about the domestic constitution of the UK and the relationship between parliament and our government.

The result is a reassertion by the court that we live in a parliamentary democracy, in which, having been elected, our MPs have the sovereign power to grant rights and remove them; a power only constricted by consideration of human rights and rule of law.

These rights affect people’s lives, family life, where people live, where they work, their very right to work in this country. They are vital rights in day to day life. The court has decided that the rights attaching to our membership of the EU were given by parliament and can only be removed by parliament. This is a victory for democracy and the rule of law.

Some have questioned the point of this judgment now that the prime minister has said she will give parliament a vote on the Brexit deal after negotiations. We can speculate that she may not have done so had the cases of my client and Gina Miller not brought pressure to bear.

Is Theresa May's recent concession sufficient? No. Having served the Article 50 notice, we will withdraw from the union on the second anniversary regardless of whether a deal is done or whether parliament approves a deal. Parliament may be left then with a choice: vote yes to the deal or we leave with no deal at all.

The time for the vote then is now on the principle of withdrawal and the inevitable removal of citizens’ rights that will follow both for citizens here and UK citizens in the EU. In considering an Article 50 statute, I am sure MPs will have those rights in mind.

Yesterday’s ruling was also a victory for our judicial process. Both my client and Gina Miller have received vile and threatening hate mail, yet they have had their case heard and treated by the courts with the greatest of respect.

The court itself has been vilified and judges subject to intense media criticism and intimidation. Yet a determination has been made based purely on the legal issues, which is as it should be.

Ministers – and especially the lord chancellor – should confirm their unquestioning support for the rights of the claimants in this case and their respect for the court's decision.