Or why the Government should not be allowed “to use the rusty toolbox of medieval powers known as the Royal Prerogative” to trigger Article 50.
A group of concerned UK citizens has embarked on a legal challenge to the Government’s plans to use Royal Prerogative powers to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to exit the EU. The challenge, which will be funded through the Crowd Justice website, will be considered this October alongside those of investment manager Gina Miller and hairdresser Dier Dos Santos.
The group is headed by Grahame Pigney, a UK citizen living in France, who ran the Say Yes 2 Europe grassroots campaign. Others involved also campaigned in the run-up to the Referendum. They include Rob Pigney, Paul Cartwright, a Gibraltarian national who runs Brex-IN, Christopher Formaggia, who lives in Wales, Tahmid Chowdhury, a London student and Fergal McFerran who lives in Northern Ireland
At last month’s Divisional Court hearing their QC, Helen Mountfield, told Sir Brian Leveson, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, that ordinary UK citizens should have the right to participate in the litigation because they have strongly held views that Parliament should make all key decisions on Brexit, including when, how and whether to evoke Article 50, because EU citizenship rights were granted by Acts of Parliament.
John Halford, Bindmans LLP said:
“By the time of that hearing, the Government had pinned its legal colours to the mast — there would be no Act of Parliament to authorise Brexit, instead the new Prime Minister planned to use the rusty toolbox of medieval powers known as the Royal Prerogative to give effect to the EU Referendum result.”
Grahame Pigney said:
“The enforced removal of citizenship rights from 65 million people is unprecedented in a modern democracy. If it is to happen, it must involve proper Parliamentary process. Parliament has granted these rights. It is for Parliament to decide under what circumstances they are taken away.”
“It is critical that ordinary people are involved and represented. Our rights and benefits were hardly mentioned during the referendum, lost in the rhetoric about trade, influence and “taking back control”. We must now act to make sure those rights are not, once again, ignored in the decisions about when, how and under what circumstances the UK leaves the EU.”
But what can a small group of concerned citizens add to a case where the UK’s biggest constitutional law gun — Lord Pannick QC — has already been commissioned and pointed towards the Government by Ms Miller?
There are three answers.
First, involvement of ordinary UK Citizens in this extraordinary case adds a critical democratic ingredient. None are wealthy or in the public eye, they are united by a concern about a Prime Minister making profoundly undemocratic decisions about UK Citizen’s rights. In a representative democracy, these are matters for Parliament alone, not the Executive.
Second, the reason why they say that is important. Parliament has given citizenship rights to ordinary British Citizens and only Parliament can strip away those rights. This freestanding argument needs to be put to the court because it affects every one of the UK’s 65 million citizens.
Third, the group is deeply committed to transparency, and will press for others, particularly the government, to reciprocate. Those who are interested should be able to see, understand, debate, applaud or disagree with those arguments.
For these things to happen though, the case needs to be funded through public contributions. Those who are interested in making a contribution to help fund this People’s Challenge can do so at: https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/parliament-should-decide/