Motion does not override law of the land, Supreme Court is told

Brexit Secretary David Davis is leading the Government's appeal against the High Court ruling. The plot is gripping, but the ending is still a mystery.

Iain Duncan Smith, who campaigned extensively for Brexit, told Sky News that Labour's motion has created a "historic moment" in Parliament.

"We'll see in January what the Government comes up with and I suspect when they come up with not very much, more people, including quite a number of Conservatives may be prepared to vote differently".

In a non-binding vote Wednesday in the House of Commons, lawmakers backed the government's plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year.

But the approved motion gives ministers considerable leeway to withhold details, by stating "there should be no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the United Kingdom in any negotiations".

Both pro- and anti-Brexit forces are claiming the result as a victory.

"We will not frustrate the process by voting down Article 50, but we can not have a debate in a vacuum", Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer told parliament last month. It is a curious feature of Brexit Britain that the official opposition seems to think its role in Parliament is to wait until the government shows any sign of coming under pressure then to row in behind it.

The Prime Minister took the wind out of the sails of a potential Tory rebellion in the symbolic Commons vote after conceding on Tuesday to set out the direction Brexit negotiations will take.

The Lord Advocate is intervening in the case to argue that the prerogative can not be used because, among other reasons, triggering Article 50 would result in the law in devolved areas being changed and in the competence of the Scottish Parliament and responsibilities of the Scottish Government being altered, contrary to the constitutional convention that the UK Parliament will not normally do such things without the Scottish Parliament's consent.

The case is due to end on Thursday.

A stone's throw away from the Supreme Court, parliament will vote on Wednesday on whether to back May's timetable on Article 50. Prerogative powers have been used for centuries — originally by monarchs, now by politicians — to join or leave worldwide treaties without a vote in Parliament.

But David Pannick, one of the lawyers arguing against the government, said Wednesday that the government does not have the power to take Britain out of the European Union - removing rights granted to citizens by membership in the bloc - without the approval of lawmakers.

The government is now fighting a ruling at the Supreme Court which said ministers can not trigger Article 50 without parliamentary approval and David Pannick, the lawyer who is leading the challenge to the government's position, said Wednesday's motion had no bearing on the case.

The case is further complicated by Britain's regional structure.

Her case is being supported by "concerned citizens" drawn from all walks of life, including London hairdresser Deir Dos Santos, 37, who helped start the legal battle over Brexit but, say his lawyers, has been forced underground after receiving "vile" hate mail. "According to law.it must be parliament", he said.

She is attending this week's Supreme Court case with bodyguards.

Inside the court, the legal argument has been restrained, elegant and intellectual, ranging from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to a dispute over Newfoundland lobster fishing.

Lord Pannick told the justices that there had been debates in Parliament, and there would be "more such debates". "The judges will now decide if they agree".

The High Court ruling was won by Gina Miller, 51, an investment fund manager and philanthropist who was selected to bring the lead case.

The United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave the European Union by 52 to 48 percent, but while England and Wales voted for Brexit, Scotland and Northern Ireland opted to remain in the EU. Some 48 percent of electors voted to stay in the bloc, and many want to avoid a "hard Brexit" in which the country leaves the European Union single market in goods and services. However there are fears that amendments from the Lords could delay the Brexit timetable.

Stay on topic - This helps keep the thread focused on the discussion at hand.

Conservative MPs will be whipped to vote in favour of the Government amendment that Article 50 will be triggered my March 2017 and will be free to vote for the Labour motion.

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