Scotland plans to throw its weight behind a legal battle against the British government to stop it from kicking off “Brexit,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s office said Tuesday.
Last week, the High Court ruled that the British government must seek the permission of parliament before it could trigger Article 50, the legal mechanism needed to officially begin the process of pulling out of the European Union. The British government plans to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court next month.
“The Scottish Government is clear that triggering Article 50 will directly affect devolved interests and rights in Scotland. And triggering Article 50 will inevitably deprive Scottish people and Scottish businesses of rights and freedoms which they currently enjoy,” Sturgeon said in the statement.
“It simply cannot be right that those rights can be removed by the UK Government on the say-so of a Prime Minister without parliamentary debate, scrutiny or consent. So legislation should be required at Westminster and the consent of the Scottish Parliament should be sought before Article 50 is triggered.”
Scotland said it would apply to join the battle as soon as the UK officially lodged its appeal with the Supreme Court. The court later Tuesday said that the British government had already submitted its intention to appeal and that it had been granted permission to do so.
Scotland has its own devolved administration and parliament, but is still part of the British state. While Britain voted to leave the EU in June, 62% of people in Scotland voted to remain a member. Some politicians have threatened to hold a referendum to leave the UK if Brexit happens.
“Let me be clear – I recognize and respect the right of England and Wales to leave the European Union. This is not an attempt to veto that process.” Sturgeon said.
“But the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and the national Parliament of Scotland cannot be brushed aside as if they do not matter.
The Supreme Court hearing will be held on December 5 to 8 and a decision is likely in the new year, the court said in a statement.
The matter has become a headache for British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has vowed to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017.
Experts say parliament is unlikely to block Brexit outright, but the ruling could mean the process is delayed.
Brexit has dealt a blow to the British economy, and the government is now facing a £25 billion ($31 billion) hole in its finances because of it, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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