Brexit campaigners have lost their court fight against Boris Johnson’s strategy which they said endangered the Northern Ireland peace process.
Lord Justice Bernard McCloskey delivered his ruling on Thursday morning on three joined cases against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the UK’s European Union exit.
The trio of challenges argued that a no-deal Brexit on October 31 would undermine agreements involving the UK and Irish governments that were struck during the peace process and which underpin cross-border co-operation between the two nations.
The Government rejected that contention during two days of legal proceedings in the High Court.
One of the applicants, Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997, was in court for the hearing.
Through his lawyer, he conveyed his disappointment to the judge but thanked him for how he dealt with the case.
In his written judgment, the judge said: “I consider the characterisation of the subject matter of these proceedings as inherently and unmistakably political to be beyond plausible dispute.
“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allegation and denial, blow and counter-blow, alteration and modification of government policy, public statements, unpublished deliberations, posturing, strategy and tactics are the very essence of what is both countenanced and permitted in a democratic society.”
It comes ahead of a far bigger showdown over Brexit in the UK’s highest court.
Nine Supreme Court Justices will begin a landmark case on Tuesday to decide whether Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down Parliament was unlawful.
Scottish judges ruled yesterday that the PM prorogued – suspended – Parliament in order to “stymie” scrutiny of his Brexit plan.
That directly contradicted the PM’s claim that his month-long suspension was nothing to do with Brexit.
Today Mr Johnson was forced to deny “lying” to the Queen, who he advised on the decision to prorogue Parliament until October 14.
Meanwhile there has been a furious reaction from campaigners who said he must reconvene Parliament immediately.
Government sources refused to bring back MPs until the Supreme Court has made its final ruling, probably next week.
Justices will rule on two cases – the Scottish ruling against Boris Johnson and a separate English High Court ruling that went in his favour.
Unlike Brexit-related challenges against the Government heard in England and Scotland, the Northern Ireland cases would not be able to leapfrog straight to the Supreme Court following the High Court judgment.
The Court of Appeal will hear any appeal on Friday.
That could potentially pave the way for the Northern Ireland challenge to be heard in the Supreme Court alongside Scottish and English cases next Tuesday.