David Campbell: McCord is wrong – courts should not overturn Brexit

The UK voted to leave the EU on June 23, 2016
The UK voted to leave the EU on June 23, 2016

Whilst I respect Raymond McCord’s right to seek leave for a judicial review over the implementation of the Brexit decision it is my hope and expectation that his, and other challenges, will be quickly dismissed by the courts up to Supreme Court level.

To interfere in the decision of the British people as expressed by referendum would in itself be a highly suspect act particularly when this Referendum Act was put before parliament and passed explicitly to give the British electorate ‘the final say’.

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On this basis the implementation of the decision of the European referendum does not need ratification by parliament and can be progressed with the exercise of the royal prerogative by the prime minister.

Parliament will have plenty of other work to do in reviewing and amending legislation that flows from Brexit.

Mr McCord is also wrong in asserting that Brexit undermines the Belfast Agreement. The agreement does mention European funding but was carefully worded to stipulate ‘EU programmes or their successors’.

Perhaps the draftsmen in 1998 foresaw the day when EU programmes would cease to be relevant to Northern Ireland! My suggestion to the Stormont administration would be to consider in due course replacing the SEUPB with a body to monitor and seek to alleviate practical problems on the island of Ireland as a consequence of Brexit.

In any event the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the UK Treasury will guarantee funding for all existing EU projects up to 2020 must surely undermine Mr McCord’s case.

He had no certainty of funding beyond that point even if the UK had voted to remain in the EU.

One curious omission from Mr McCord’s public statements has been disclosure over who is funding his legal challenge.

Could he enlighten us please?

David Campbell, UUP Talks negotiator 1996-1998 UUP Chairman 2005-2013