Legal Challenge To Secretary Of State For Exiting The European Union

Mar 11, 2018




A coalition of private individuals and campaign groups, led by Best for Britain, are backing a claim for judicial review in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

This includes “Tech For UK”, chaired by Mike Butcher (Editor-at-large, TechCrunch).

Working with Best for Britain, Tech for UK will bring together the best minds in technology, social media, marketing and content production together to strengthen our aims to:

“Engaging communities from all over the UK to fight Brexit as a disaster for the UK, and campaign for a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit using tech and social media.”

Tech For UK plans to hold several event under the name “The Great British Hackoff” from March 29th (marking one year to go until the UK could leave the EU). Tech For UK will engage tech communities from all over to the country, to kick off in a series of event, happenings and hackathons, to build the campaign to fight Brexit and increase public pressure on the government for a public vote on the terms of Brexit.

The objective of the hack is simple. It’s to strengthen Best for Britain’s digital campaign to fight Brexit, find more supporters and create content and tech solutions to help win the right to a public vote.

We will:

• Aim to generate 100,000 sign-ups for Best for Britain

• Building a community that will work to stop Brexit

• Create partnerships to incentivise sign-ups to Best for Britain


Mike Butcher said: “What motivated me to get involved was the idiocy of leaving the digital single market. Right now the UK is a global tech hub, and we want it to stay that way. People from all walks of life deserve to have a say on the terms of Brexit, and at the very least we need to enshrine the meaningful vote in parliament that our constitution necessitates we should have. By leaving the Digital Single Market HMG is breaking our bats before we walk out to play.”

The claim for judicial review reveals that the 2011 European Union Act could mean the British public have the right to a people’s vote on the BrexitWithdrawal Treaty. The 2011 Act also embeds the principle of a meaningful vote by statute.

Legally, the claim challenges the decision of the Secretary of State that ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the European Union is only subject to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 and argues that ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement requires following the constitutional processes under section two of the European Union Act 2011, which introduced a ‘referendum lock’ for treaties that ‘amend or replace’ the EU treaties

Best for Britain believes that when David Cameron and hundreds of Conservative MPs voted for a referendum lock, they voted to give the people a say, through a ‘People’s Vote’ if there were fundamental changes in the treaties. Parliament decided to hold the Executive accountable in this way, urged on by the Eurosceptics at the time.  Leaving the EU will be the most significant Treaty change yet, and transition arrangements are likely to mean a big transfer of powers to Brussels. Best for Britain argues that these conditions mean the British people should be given a public vote on the deal. Also, through section 2 of the 2011 Act, the Withdrawal Bill requires an Act of Parliament, embedding the meaningful vote which the government has been toying with scrapping ever since it lost its effort to defeat the ‘meaningful vote’ amendment in December.

The pre-action letter sent to the government states that the change to the UK’s relationship with the EU must be decided ‘in the only way that the UK constitution recognises, namely by Parliamentary legislation’, but also in accordance with the ‘referendum lock’ that Parliament has already put in place for constitutional decisions of this magnitude, under the 2011 Act.

Commenting on the application Eloise Todd from Best for Britain said:

“The 2011 Act brought in assurances that any significant changes to the UK’s relationship to the EU would be put to a people’s vote. This is the biggest change since we entered the EU. Also, it is likely to involve a transfer of powers because of the transition deal. This is not about leave or remain, it’s about making a democratic choice according to our constitution, given that lots of people are very worried about Brexit. It’s taking longer than we thought. It’s more complicated than we thought. Even the Good Friday Agreement is under threat. We’re two years on from the vote. The government had a mandate to get a deal. Parliament must do its duty and vote for what’s best for the country, and the people have a right to decide whether it’s good enough for them. We need that public vote, and the 2011 Act suggests we have a right to it.”

“This case is simply about having the right for people to make sure their voice matters on the biggest change in our country’s direction since the Second World War.”

Will Dry, co-founder of OFOC!, an anti-brexit youth group further added:

“The Withdrawal Deal, which will set out precisely our future relationship with Europe, should only be accepted if the people of this country think it is good enough for our future. OFOC! believes that it has become clear any deal the government come back with will have catastrophic consequences for the young in the short and long term. It will deprive young Brits of opportunities – better jobs here, or the ability to work and travel across a whole continent. It will deprive young Brits of friendships, experiences, and relationships, thousands of which will now never materialise if the Withdrawal Deal is accepted. The logic of the European Act 2011 is correct: any significant change between the UK and EU’s relationship should be put to the people. Nobody could know what Brexit meant in 2016, the Withdrawal Deal will tell us what it is now. The people must determine whether such an important deal should be accepted. ”




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