Grahame Pigney, a British resident in France, is running a crowdfunding campaign seeking support for a lawsuit on who in the UK should trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This is the formal step for a country to start the procedure to leave the EU. Pigney claims that the parliament, not the government, should have this responsibility.
“The enforced removal of citizenship rights from 65 million people is completely unprecedented in a modern democracy,” he explains in the crowdfunding page. “The rights and benefits of ordinary UK citizens were hardly mentioned during the referendum, lost in the general rhetoric about trade, influence and taking back control. I believe that, as parliament has granted us these rights, it is for parliament to decide when, how and under what circumstances they are taken away.” Pigney clarifies he does not want to challenge the results of the referendum or ignore the vote, but to ensure that parliamentary sovereignty is maintained in “one of the most important constitutional cases of our time.”
The campaign has reached the goal of 50,000GBP to cover the preparation of the case, while another 100,000GBP will be needed to continue in court. Funds are collected through CrowdJustice, a crowdfunding site helping people to gather support for their legal cases.
There are several lawsuits challenging the legal authority of the government to trigger Article 50. The leading one was brought forward by Gina Miller, an investment manager, and a group of concerned British citizens represented by international law firm Mishcon de Reya.
Campaigners in Northern Ireland are also pursuing a similar route to defend the peace process, one of the most sensitive chapters of Britain’s departure from the EU. Raymond McCord, whose son was killed by pro-British militants during the years of the conflict, launched a legal case in Belfast claiming that Brexit would undermine the Good Friday Agreement. Signed in 1998, this put an end to the hostilities between catholic nationalists, who want to unite with Ireland, and protestant unionists, who want to remain part of the UK. Brexit may mean re-establishing the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, losing EU funds for the victims and the legal basis of the deal, which contains references to the EU.
A group of human rights activists and politicians from different parties in Northern Ireland has called for a judicial review of Brexit. In the referendum, Northern Ireland chose to stay in the EU with a 56% majority.
Read more on this topic:
Brexit: NI cross-community group launch legal challenge. Irish Times, 19 August 2016.
We spoke to the woman whose landmark legal case could block Britain from triggering Article 50. Adam Payne on the Independent, 22 August 2016. In the interview she says: “We must remember that the UK doesn’t have a written constitution – it is made up of precedent. If we set the precedent that a government can use their royal prerogative to take away people’s human rights, that is taking us into a very dangerous political environment.”