N. Ireland Politics

Northern Ireland group to launch Brexit challenge

brexit Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A legal challenge against Brexit is to be launched in Northern Ireland

A legal challenge over the UK leaving the European Union (EU) is to be launched in Northern Ireland.

Former justice minister David Ford is among a cross-community group of politicians and human-rights activists involved in the bid.

Their lawyers have written to Prime Minister Theresa May urging her to consider the NI peace process before formally triggering Brexit.

A majority in Northern Ireland backed Remain in the June referendum.

Solicitors have threatened to take a judicial review before the High Court in Belfast - and ultimately to Europe's highest court - unless Mrs May addresses legal obligations which, they say, she must meet, including gaining the consent of the Stormont Assembly.

The prime minister and Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire have been asked to reply within two weeks.

Can the law stop Brexit?

Others supporting the warning letter include: Green Party leader Steven Agnew; Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Colum Eastwood; senior Sinn Féin Stormont Assembly member John O'Dowd; former head of the Progressive Unionist Party Dawn Purvis; ex-Equality Commission member and disability rights activist Monica Wilson OBE and the the Committee on the Administration of Justice human-rights group.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Brexit campaigners have called for Theresa May to invoke Article 50 immediately

A legal challenge over the UK leaving the EU will be heard by the High Court in London in October, two judges have decided.

Government lawyers are expected to argue that the prime minister can use historic Royal Prerogative powers to start the process of withdrawing from the EU, a course the challengers say is unlawful.

They say Parliament must give its authorisation.

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