THE Scottish Government could become involved in the legal challenge resulting from the Brexit vote, the First Minister revealed as she described the High Court’s verdict that MPs must consent to the triggering of Article 50 as “hugely significant”.
Nicola Sturgeon said ministers will now “actively consider” if the Holyrood administration should become involved in the case.
She was speaking after the UK Government confirmed it would appeal the result.
In one of the most important constitutional cases in generations, three senior judges ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May does not have the power to use the royal prerogative to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the two-year process of negotiating Brexit without the prior authority of the Westminster Parliament.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The judgment this morning I don’t think is a huge surprise for anyone that followed the case, but it is hugely significant and it underlines the total chaos and confusion at the heart of the UK Government.
“We should remember that their refusal to allow a vote in the House of Commons is not some matter of high constitutional principal, it’s because they don’t have a coherent position and they know that if they take their case to the House of Commons that will be exposed.”
ARTICLE 50 RULING: READ MORE
Asked by Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald if the Scottish Government would “actively oppose” the appeal by the UK Government when the case reaches the Supreme Court, Ms Sturgeon said: “We will be looking at the judgment very carefully and yes we will actively consider whether there is a case for the Scottish Government to become participants in that case.”
She added: “The job of this Government is to protect Scotland’s interests, Scotland voted to remain in the EU and my job is therefore to protect our place in Europe and in the single market as far as I possibly can.
“SNP MPs in the House of Commons will certainly not vote for anything that undermines the will or the interest of the Scottish people.”
Ms Sturgeon, speaking at First Minister’s Questions, also used the weekly clash to attack Ruth Davidson after the Tory leader claimed the prospect of a second vote on independence is the “biggest threat to Scotland’s economy at the moment”.
The SNP leader insisted instead that “dragging Scotland out of the European Union against our will” poses the greatest economic danger.
She added of Ms Davidson: “For her to talk about constitutional uncertainty is beyond words.”
The Tory leader began the exchange at Holyrood by attacking the Scottish Government over its plans to increase council tax charges for those living in the most expensive properties.
Ms Davidson then went on to tell the First Minister that Scots will pay more in income tax under the SNP, while businesses are also paying more in rates.
The Conservative said: “Here is the SNP plan. Higher council tax, higher business rates, higher income tax and a second referendum which is damaging confidence. We all want economic growth but how does that plan deliver it?”
Ms Sturgeon said: “This is when I start to wonder if Ruth Davidson is my secret FMQs agent – that she can get up today of all days and talk about constitutional uncertainty frankly beggars belief.
“This is the day when her party has just been overturned in the courts, when the courts have said their intention to trigger Article 50 without a vote in Parliament is illegal. For her to talk about constitutional uncertainty is beyond words.”
The SNP leader continued: “Let me make clear the job of this Government. The job of this Government is to make sure we look after public services, it’s to make sure we bring forward proposals for tax that are reasonable, balanced and progressive, that allow us to protect those public services and allow us to make sure we’re supporting our economy to grow, particularly through our support for the smallest businesses in our country.
“Our job also is to make sure we’re standing up for the interests of this country and doing everything that we can to prevent the party that Ruth Davidson is a member of from dragging Scotland out of the European Union against our will, because that is the biggest risk to our economy and that is what Ruth Davidson really needs to wake up to.”