Jolyon Maugham fails in legal challenge to prevent vote on Boris Johnson’s deal

Jo Maugham QC delivers a statement to the media outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

Jo Maugham QC delivers a statement to the media outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

A legal bid arguing Boris Johnson's Brexit deal is unlawful, and attempting to prevent it being voted on by MPs, has been rejected in Scotland's highest civil court.

Campaigner Jolyon Maugham QC is behind the legal challenge which was heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, where the judge said the case was of "very doubtful competency".

On hearing the decision, Maugham suggested that the short time frame of events had affected the viability of his case since the deal was agreed.

He said in a tweet: "As I said yesterday morning, we had to make a decision to issue proceedings for interim remedies quickly or not at all; once the Withdrawal Agreement reaches parliament it becomes impossible to challenge.

"It is difficult to move quickly and accurately and, the court has found, I got that decision wrong".

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Lord Pentland rejected Maugham's argument that the agreement was unlawful, saying: "The orders sought would unquestionably interfere to a major extent to the proposed proceedings in parliament.

"I cannot see that it would be right for parliament to be invited to consider a draft treaty which the court had suspended on the basis that it was unlawful.

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"It is a cardinal principle of constitutional law that the courts should not intrude on the legitimate affairs and processes of parliament."

The case had argued that the new deal contravenes a current law stipulating it is "unlawful for Her Majesty's government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain".

MORE: Court case could rule Boris Johnson's Brexit deal 'unlawful'This rule, as part of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018, Section 55, was put forward by the pro-Brexit ERG.

Maugham argued that it is "simply not open, as a matter of law", for Boris Johnson to have entered into the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU without repealing this section of the Act.

He tweeted at the time: "We do not understand how the government might have come to negotiate a Withdrawal Agreement in terms that breach amendments tabled by its own European Research Group.

He sought a court order to prevent the agreement being put to a vote on the upcoming "Super Saturday" of parliamentary action.

Maugham has now said that his organisation, the Good Law Project, will release a full account of expenditure.

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