Belfast High Court dismisses No Deal Brexit challenge

12 September 2019, 18:03

Belfast High Court dismisses legal challenges to No Deal
Belfast High Court dismisses legal challenges to No Deal. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A legal challenge in Belfast that claimed Boris Johnson's Brexit strategy will damage the Northern Ireland peace process has been dismissed.

Lord Justice Bernard McCloskey delivered his verdict at Belfast High Court this morning, describing the subject matter of the case as "inherently and unmistakably political to be beyond plausible dispute."

Three separate challenges filed against the government contended that leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October would undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

Victims' campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997, put forward one of the applications.

He told the judge of his disappointment at the ruling and plans to appeal the decision which could be heard in the Supreme Court next week.

It comes as campaigners bring legal action against Boris Johnson today and his plans to force through no-deal Brexit by ignoring a new Act of Parliament passed by MPs this week.

The government has had mixed fortunes in the UK's courts this week
The government has had mixed fortunes in the UK's courts this week. Picture: PA

Lord Justice McCloskey's written judgement said: ""Virtually all of the assembled evidence belongs to the world of politics, both national and supra-national.

"Within the world of politics the well-recognised phenomena of claim and counterclaim, assertion and counter-assertion, allegation and denial, blow and counter-blow, alteration and modification of government policy, public statements, unpublished deliberations, posturing, strategy and tactics are the very essence of what is both countenanced and permitted in a democratic society."

Essentially, the judge decided that the subject matter he was asked to rule on should be dealt with by politicians, not judges.

He also dismissed a challenge against the prorogation of Parliament, citing two previous rulings in English and Scottish courts where the issue of prorogation was the "centrepiece".

Appeals to those cases will be heard by the Supreme Court next week, however because prorogation was not discussed by Lord Justice McCloskey the challenges in Belfast might not have a chance to appeal.

This is because Supreme Court judge Lord Kerr stated that the UK's highest court only intended to hear arguments on the prorogation of Parliament next week.

Mr McCord was disappointed with today's ruling and seeks to appeal the decision
Mr McCord was disappointed with today's ruling and seeks to appeal the decision. Picture: PA

Mr McCord will apply to the Belfast Appeal Court to re-activate his challenge, which could lead to his case being heard in the Supreme Court.

Speaking outside the court, Mr McCord expressed his disappointment.

He said: "They referred to political reasons in the court this morning; I am not a political person, I have no interest in political parties here because they have failed the victims here.

"This is for all the people. This isn't for somebody who votes unionist or nationalist, this is for the benefit of all the people and I am confident this will be brought forward to the Court of Appeal.

"We have three judges sitting there and there's no politics in their mindset. The fight goes on. All being well, we will be sitting in the Supreme Court in London next week."

Earlier this week English courts also declared prorogation a political matter, whereas Scottish courts declared the prime minister's plan to suspend Parliament as unlawful.

The Supreme Court will have the final say on the claims from London, Belfast and Edinburgh together in a three-day hearing next week.