By Busra Akin Dincer
LONDON (AA): A Supreme Court hearing on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU began Monday as the government sought to avoid having to secure parliamentary consent on exit negotiations.
The government is challenging last month’s High Court ruling that parliament must be consulted before Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty — the formal mechanism for leaving the EU — is triggered.
Eleven judges will hear the arguments over four days and a verdict is due early next year.
In his opening remarks, which were televised by several broadcasters, Supreme Court President David Neuberger said “political questions” were not part of the case.
“This appeal is concerned with legal issues and, as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially and to decide the case according to the law,” he told the central London hearing. “This is what we shall do.”
Attorney General Jeremy Wright emphasized the case’s “great constitutional significance”.
Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted her government will trigger the Article 50 before the end of March by using “prerogative powers”.
However, the High Court said only parliament can make changes that would affect the laws passed in the 1972 European Communities Act that led to the U.K. joining the European Economic Community, the frontrunner to the EU.
Wright defended the use of prerogative powers and said they were not being utilized “on a whim or out of a clear blue sky” but after a process in which parliament was “fully and consciously involved”.
The legal challenge to the government’s case has been mounted by campaigners in Northern Ireland while the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales have also been allowed to participate in the case. They claim their regional assemblies should also be consulted on the U.K.’s exit.
[Photo: Businesswoman Gina Miller (C) arrives at the Supreme Court ahead of the first day of a hearing into whether Parliament’s consent is required before the Brexit process can begin, on December 5, 2016 in London, England. The eleven Supreme Court Justices will hear the government’s appeal, following the High Court’s recent decision that only Parliament can trigger Article 50. Photgrapher: Muhabiri Kate Green/AA]