Northern Ireland

Use of Royal Prerogative to action EU withdrawal 'not illegal'

Flags Image copyright PA
Image caption Separate legal challenges to Brexit are being heard in Belfast

The use of Royal Prerogative to action a withdrawal from the EU is "not illegal, unorthodox or undemocratic", the High Court in Belfast has been told.

A barrister for the Secretary of State James Brokenshire made the comment during the second day of hearings for legal challenges to the government's plans for Brexit.

Separate proceedings have been brought by Raymond McCord, the father of a loyalist paramilitary murder victim and by a cross-party group of MLAs.

A barrister was responding to the comments of the legal team representing the MLAs.

The group wants parliament to be allowed to debate and vote on Brexit plans using the views of the Northern Ireland Executive.

The Conservative government plans to use Royal Prerogative to make the necessary constitutional changes without the authorisation of parliament.

Image caption Protestors from Border Communities Against Brexit arrived outside the High Court on Wednesday to support the legal action

However, both the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and Mr Brokenshire have said they will take the views of the Northern Ireland Executive into account.

The barrister said there was "no legal impediment to a government giving effect to the will of the people as expressed in a referendum".

On Tuesday, another barrister, acting for the victims' campaigner Raymond McCord, had suggested the government's plans were unlawful under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and would have a "catastrophic effect" on Northern Ireland's peace process.

Earlier on Wednesday, protestors from Border Communities Against Brexit arrived outside the High Court to support the legal action.

Dermot O'Hara, who manages a group which assists people with learning disabilities in Derry, said Brexit would remove the grant support his work requires.

There was also a brief demonstration of support by Students Against Brexit.

Image caption Mr McCord is taking the case amid concerns that European peace money, which goes towards victims of the Troubles, may be discontinued

During the hearing, Mr Justice Maguire expressed concern that submissions from some of the barristers had been taking too long.

On Tuesday, another barrister, acting for the victims' campaigner Raymond McCord, had suggested the government's plans were unlawful under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and would have a "catastrophic effect" on Northern Ireland's peace process.

The hearings are due to finish on Wednesday.

On Sunday, the prime minister said she would trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017.

Similar legal challenges are already under way in London.

Mr McCord's son, Raymond Jnr, was murdered by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in 1997, and Mr McCord is taking the case amid concerns that European peace money, which goes towards victims of the Troubles, may be discontinued.

Even though the UK voted overall to leave the EU, a 56% majority in Northern Ireland wanted to remain.

Related Topics

More on this story