PRESS RELEASE RE BREXIT CHALLENGE
ISSUED 9th NOVEMBER 2020 BY HARTE COYLE COLLINS, SOLICITORS & ADVOCATES, BELFAST
A citizen of Northern Ireland has launched a legal challenge against the Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking the High Court in Belfast to adjudicate on the claim by the citizen that he has acted in bad faith and for improper purpose in relation to Brexit. Papers lodged in the High Court in Belfast on Friday 30th October 2020 by the citizen applicant ask the Court to grant leave for a judicial review challenge.
The applicant is seeking a declaration on an allegation that the decision of the Prime Minister to sign the Withdrawal Agreement and Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol on 24th January 2020 was made for improper purposes and was an act done in bad faith. The challenger relies upon publicly available evidence which they say indicates that the Prime Minister never intended to adhere to certain parts of the Agreement and Protocol. That Agreement, which was a binding international agreement, was the basis on which Parliament had approved the UK’s exit from the EU after repeatedly postponing Exit day precisely in order to prevent the UK’s departure from the EU on terms that were not approved by Parliament.
The citizen is also seeking anonymity to pursue the challenge. The applicant awaits a decision from the Court for an urgent leave hearing before the challenge can move to the second stage of a substantive hearing and examination of the evidence in respect of the Prime Minister’s intentions and conduct.
The Applicant remains extremely concerned about the possibility of a physical infrastructure/border between the North and South of Ireland.
If leave is granted by the High Court in Belfast the Applicant will argue that UK Government had previously asserted that they could exercise the prerogative in order to ensure the UK’s departure from the EU without the need to obtain Parliamentary approval in advance. That position was rejected in Miller (No. 1)  AC 61 in which the UK Supreme Court found that “the prerogative could not be invoked by ministers to justify giving Notice: ministers require the authority of primary legislation before they can take that course.” The UK Parliament subsequently provided authority for the UK to leave the EU on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement by passing the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. The Applicant will argue that based on the logic of Miller (1) the UK Government was therefore permitted to leave the EU on the basis that they implemented the will of Parliament, by agreeing to and implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol. If the Belfast High Court grants leave for this urgent judicial review, the Applicant will argue that the Government signed that Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol without any intention of adhering to it or being bound by it, but rather to ensure that the UK left the EU as soon as possible.
The Applicant claims that the legal papers lodged with the High Court on Friday 30th October 2020 support this argument by relying on publicly available evidence, including: the Prime Minister’s statements at the time the Withdrawal Agreement was reached which were inconsistent with the effect it would have in practice if implemented; The Prime Minister’s actions and explanations at present in relation to the introduction of the UK Internal Markets Bill; The Prime Minister’s current statements explaining why he signed the Withdrawal Agreement, suggesting this was merely to ensure the UK left the EU on any terms rather than to implement the Withdrawal Agreement; public comments made by the Prime Minister’s key advisor Dominic Cummings to the effect that any Withdrawal Agreement could subsequently be ignored; recent comments of the Prime Minister’s political allies to the effect that this was always what the Prime Minister had intended; and reports written by a respected journalist two weeks after the UK’s exit from the EU that the Prime Minister had replaced his Attorney General essentially because he did not wish to be bound by the Withdrawal Agreement.
Patricia Coyle of Harte Coyle Collins, Solicitors & Advocates, Belfast speaking on behalf of the Applicant said today;
“The evidence available in the public domain which our client relies upon in making the allegation of bad faith on the part of the Prime Minister was identified in pre-action correspondence which went to the Prime Minister on the 19th September 2020. He did not address this evidence in his response to us. Our client can only conclude that there is no good answer to it. This supports our client’s allegation that the Prime Minister signed the Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol without ever intending he should be bound by it. If that is correct and the Court adjudicates so, then his actions were unlawful, insofar as he has frustrated the intention of Parliament.
Our client also alleges and argues that the Prime Minister’s decision to sign that Agreement amounted to an exercise of the royal prerogative for improper purposes, or which was otherwise in bad faith. Our client’s view is that it is both appropriate and open to the High Court in Belfast to make a declaration to this effect, for a variety of reasons, including that doing so is the most appropriate way to vindicate the rule of law and to ensure that the Prime Minister does not avoid the legal consequences flowing from the alleged illegality of his actions.”
Harte Coyle Collins
Solicitors & Advocates
9-15 Queen Street