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No Brexit without parliament

Riccardo Calzavara and Toby Vanhegan consider the reasoning behind the High Court’s ruling that the government cannot trigger article 50 without parliament’s consent

4 November 2016

Last month we summarised the arguments before the High Court in R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Judgment was handed down on 3 November 2016: [2016] EWHC 2768 (Admin). It was a bombshell.

The parties having agreed that the matter was justiciable and the court recognising that the referendum result was a matter of significance to be considered ‘elsewhere’, the sole question was whether the government was entitled to use the royal prerogative to give notice under article 50 for the UK to cease to be a member of the EU. The court was at pains to emphasise, as it had during argument, that the only issue was this question of pure constitutional law. The merits (or otherwise) of Brexit were not a matter for the courts, whose constitutional duty is to enforce rules of law.

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