English Democrats leader Robin Tilbrook (pictured) says he is ‘very confident’ of victory in his Brexit court battle
The leader of the English Democrats has said he is ‘very confident’ of proving that Britain has already left the EU – despite government claims that his case is ‘hopeless’.
Robin Tilbrook said his movement had raised £58,000 for the High Court battle and enjoyed an ‘upsurge of people joining our party’.
He said officials were just as dismissive of the Gina Miller case in 2016 – a case which she went on to win.
The case turns on whether Theresa May had the legal power to delay Brexit past the initial March 29 deadline.
Mr Tilbrook says she had the power to start the two-year withdrawal process, but not to amend it.
As a result, he says the extension was invalid and that Britain left the EU on March 29 as originally planned.
Government lawyers counter that Mrs May had implied powers to change the Brexit date and that Parliament approved the delay.
A court date is yet to be set but Mr Tilbrook has asked for the case to be expedited.
Speaking to MailOnline last night, he said the government was taking the case ‘really seriously’.
He said: ‘I’m very confident. As much as you can be confident of anything in life, I think this is a pretty strong one.’
The English Democrats argue that Theresa May (pictured in Downing Street today) did not have the power to delay Brexit beyond March 29 this year
Robin Tilbrook said the case of Gina Miller (pictured centre) – who took the government to court over Article 50 and won – was a helpful precedent for his party’s own legal bid
Explaining his party’s case, he said: ‘It’s quite simple. If your notice expires, then you’re out.
‘They served their notice under that Act of Parliament. If you look at the Act in question, it’s 137 words.
‘It just says that she’s got power to serve notice to withdraw the UK from the EU. It doesn’t say she’s got any other powers.
‘That’s the crux of the case: that she’s properly served the notice, and at the end of that period of notice of two years, you’re out.’
He said the Gina Miller case – when Ms Miller forced the PM to win parliamentary backing to begin the Brexit process – was a helpful precedent for his party.
Government lawyers say that Mrs May had prerogative powers to agree a Brexit delay with Brussels.
But an Act of Parliament supersedes prerogative powers – a point made by the Supreme Court in Miller, said Mr Tilbrook.
Theresa May talks to European Council chief Donald Tusk (left) and German chancellor Angela Merkel (right) at the Brussels summit where the extension was agreed
‘It displaces all other executive rights to do anything in that area without another Act, and they haven’t got one,’ he said.
Mr Tilbrook launched the legal challenge after Mrs May agreed a delay with EU leaders, having failed to win Commons backing for her withdrawal agreement.
He has called it an ‘opportunity to make history’ and said it could save Britain a £39billion divorce bill.
But in a scathing response, Government lawyers said the legal claim was ‘totally without merit’ and called for the case to be dismissed.
‘If the claimant is right, the UK would have withdrawn from the EU by accident,’ they said.
Mrs May was forced to ask for a delay (pictured, the results of an extension vote being announced in the House of Commons) after MPs rejected her withdrawal deal
That would be ‘directly contrary to the evident intention and belief of Parliament and the other member states of the EU’, they claim.
‘That would be a startling legal position indeed.’
The 2017 Act which allowed the PM to trigger Article 50 did not set a date for Britain to leave, Government lawyers wrote.
Therefore, it did not restrict the Government’s power to change the date, they say.
The 2018 Withdrawal Act foresees a situation in which the exit date is amended, they added, meaning Parliament had accepted that possibility.
And earlier this year the Commons and Lords both approved an extension.
‘Parliament has acted on the basis of those lawful extensions and given effect to the extension of the withdrawal date,’ they said.
Calling the English Democrats’ claim ‘hopeless’, they said it should be thrown out and declared ‘totally without merit’.
Mr Tilbrook’s lawyers have since fired back, saying that ‘a claim of such constitutional importance’ should be heard in court.
A valid extension would ‘frustrate the legislative intension of Parliament’, they submitted.
Ms Miller launched her legal challenge in 2016, saying that Parliament had to approve the triggering of the Brexit process.
The High Court and Supreme Court both found in her favour, forcing MPs to vote on Article 50.
Ms Miller has since become a prominent advocate of a second referendum on Brexit.