Scotland politics

Scottish intervention in Article 50 case cost £136,000

Supreme Court judges
Image caption Judges at the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the Scottish government's arguments

The Scottish government spent more than £136,000 on its intervention in the Article 50 case at the Supreme Court, it has been revealed.

Brexit minister Mike Russell confirmed the sum in response to a series of questions tabled at Holyrood.

The cost included £128,877 in external legal fees, plus court fees and travel and accommodation for officials.

Judges unanimously rejected the argument that devolved administrations must be consulted over Article 50.

They also rejected the UK government's argument that ministers should be able to trigger the formal process of exiting the European Union without putting it to a vote at Holyrood. A bill to this effect has been approved by MPs and is now under consideration in the House of Lords.

Mr Russell said the government had applied to intervene "given the significance of the case for the UK's constitutional arrangements and the effect on devolved competence".

Lord Advocate James Wolffe put forward arguments that the so-called Sewel convention of legislative consent was activated by the "significant changes" that Brexit would make to Holyrood.

Image caption Lord Advocate James Wolffe put forward arguments for the Scottish government at the Supreme Court

He was supported in the preparation and presentation of his argument by external counsel, representing the bulk of the cost of the case, as well as Scottish government officials.

Lawyers for the UK government rejected Mr Wolffe's claims, saying the argument was "fatally undermined" by the fact powers over foreign affairs were reserved to Westminster.

The court unanimously found that the principle of legislative consent "does not give rise to a legally enforceable obligation".

The judges did note that the Sewel convention plays "an important role in the operation of the UK constitution", but said it was not a matter for the courts. They added: "The devolved legislatures do not have a veto on the UK's decision to withdraw from the EU."

The full breakdown of the costs provided by the Scottish government was:

  • External legal fees: £128,877.09
  • Court fee (application to intervene): £800
  • Room hire and catering at the Supreme Court: £510
  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence for government officials: £6230.84

The Scottish Parliament subsequently held a non-binding vote on the matter of Article 50, which members voted by 90 to 34 to say it should not be triggered.

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