On Monday, Theresa May faces her biggest challenge yet on Brexit. The Supreme Court will hear the Government’s appeal against the High Court ruling stating that MPs must approve the UK’s exit from the EU.
Here are seven things you need to know about the dramatic legal challenge.
1. The appeal will be heard over four days, starting on Monday, with the court expected to make a decision at the start of January.
2. If the Government loses, which looks likely, Theresa May’s bid to trigger Article 50 by the end of March could lie in tatters. Legal expert professor Michael Zander believes the High Court’s “unanimous” ruling will not be overturned, adding:
In my view, the Government could be looking at losing 11-0.
3. The case will be heard by all 11 of the Supreme Court’s justices, something that has never happened before. Cases are usually heard by only four or five justices.
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4. The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, will introduce the Government’s appeal before handing over to an independent lawyer, James Eadie QC.
5. The lead claimant is Gina Miller, a 51-year-old investment fund manager. She has since faced a torrent of abuse on social media by Brexit supporters, and claims she has spent £60,000 on security measures to protect her and her family.
6. The case could be transferred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Eleanor Sharpston, Britain’s judge on the ECJ, has said: “The interpretation of [Article 50] is a matter for this court [the ECJ].”
7. The proceedings will be streamed live on the Supreme Court website. Transcripts will also be available on the site.
Even if the Government loses the appeal, it is widely expected that the vast majority of MPs will vote to trigger Article 50 – even if they campaigned to Remain in the EU. But make no mistake; it would be hugely embarrassing for Mrs May and David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, who want to keep their EU withdrawal schedule on track.