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Brexit: Supreme Court told 'Parliament can look after itself' as QC Eadie wraps up Government's case

The Government has rejected the suggestion that its Brexit strategy is an 'affront' to parliamentary sovereignty.

Eleven Supreme Court justices were told on the second day of the historic hearing in London that the case put forward by those challenging the Government's plan represented "a serious constitutional trap".

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and two other judges decided at the High Court in November that Prime Minister Theresa May lacked power to use the royal prerogative to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start the two-year process of negotiating Brexit without the prior authority of Parliament.

James Eadie QC, for the Government, told the packed court: "It is said that the Government giving Article 50 notice is an affront to parliamentary sovereignty because Parliament has created rights and only it can alter them."

Rejecting the claim, he declared: "Our case fully respects, and offers no affront, to parliamentary sovereignty."

Mr Eadie was continuing his arguments in an attempt to persuade the panel of justices, headed by the Supreme Court's president Lord Neuberger, to rule in its favour over its planned strategy for exiting the European Union.

He is urging the judges to overturn the High Court's ruling. In a case of "great constitutional importance", the Supreme Court has heard a claim that it is for the Government to exercise prerogative powers in the conduct of the UK's affairs on the international plane.

The case, which will finish on Thursday, with a judgment reserved until the new year, has attracted worldwide attention.

Mr Eadie told the court that the idea that Parliament would not be involved in the Article 50 triggering of Brexit "cannot possibly be sustained".

Opposition motions were due to be debated in the House of Commons this week, he said, while Parliament would be involved in subsequent questions of legislation.

An opposition debate was set down for Wednesday - and no party in Parliament had "called for parliamentary legislation to be enacted in advance of the giving of notice".

Mr Eadie told the court: "Parliament does not seem to want the obligation the Divisional Court (High Court) has thrust upon them."

The QC told the court: "Article 50 merely starts the process. It effects in itself no change in the law, and negotiation will be needed. The outcome can't be known.

"The aim will be to seek agreement. The negotiations will no doubt be long and arduous.

"Parliament will inevitably be involved in that process of withdrawal."

Mr Eadie said the Government would "address policy area by policy area" to see "what the brave new world should look like".

He argued that the "apparent simplicity" of the case put forward by those challenging the Government's use of the prerogative "represents, we submit, a serious constitutional trap".

If the Supreme Court ruled against the Government, then the "courts would be imposing, in effect, a new control of the most serious kind in a highly controversial, and by Parliament, a carefully considered, area", he said.

If the justices ruled in favour of the challengers then "this would take the court over the line".

The justices have emphasised that the appeal concerns an issue of law and is not about the wider political questions surrounding the UK's departure from the EU.

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