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The Government outlined its legal position yesterday as their impending Internal Market Bill threatens to undermine the already agreed Withdrawal Agreement, using activist Gina Miller as an example. Supporters claim she was “hoisted by her own petard” as Attorney General Suella Braverman used her 2017 case to prove Parliamentary sovereignty. But lawyers have come forward to disprove the assertions made in the announcement, stating the ruling does not apply in this specific situation.
Does the Gina Miller case prove the EU is wrong?
EU members and leadership have all come out to strongly condemn the Government’s recent change in tack, which threatens to break international law.
Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, yesterday signalled they would not withdraw the bill, which will soon go to the House of Commons.
The Government then sent out a statement, using R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (2017) as proof of Parliamentary sovereignty in the matter.
The case, which Ms Miller put to the Supreme Court three years ago, argued Parliament has sovereignty over the Government.
The Government lost the case, which specified it could not withdraw the UK from the EU without an Act of Parliament.
According to Cambridge Public Law Professor Mark Elliott, the case for sovereignty meant MPs could enact any domestic law.
But Professor Elliott explained the Attorney General was using the Miller case to propose the UK’s internal constitution then allowed Parliament to breach international law.
He added Parliament’s domestic supremacy does not give it the right to subvert international treaties.
He wrote on Twitter: “The Government’s argument is that Parliament’s legal capacity in domestic law to make any law it wants somehow makes it acceptable, as a matter of international law, for the UK to renege on its treaty obligations.
“But the latter does not follow from the former.
“Contrary to the Government’s position, the UK, like every other State, is required in international law to abide by its treaty obligations.”
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“Neither parliamentary sovereignty nor the notion of dualism is any answer to that point.”
Professor Elliott concluded: “Treaty obligations are binding upon the UK, and to suggest that they are not ‘because parliament is sovereign’ is as embarrassing as it is dangerous.”
Ms Miller has also come forward to defend the findings of her case against the Government, makes Parliamentary sovereignty “intellectually and legally distinct from international treaty obligations”.
In a statement, she added the Government seems determined to “undermine the rule of law”.
She said: “I am surprised and disappointed that the Government has sought to use R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union  UKSC 5 (Miller 1) as a way of justifying its decision arbitrarily to amend the Withdrawal Agreement as provided for in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2020.
“The issue of Parliamentary sovereignty is intellectually and legally distinct from international obligations entered into by HM Government.
“Miller 1 stands for the importance of the rule of law, something that this Government seems determined to undermine.”
Shadow attorney-general Lord Falconer added Ms Braverman had not assuaged his doubts, as the statement did nothing to justify breaching the rule of law.
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