Northern Ireland secretary: UK government will accept supreme court ruling on Brexit

Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire has said the British government will accept any supreme court decision forcing Westminster to vote on Brexit, despite insisting his party is staunchly opposed to a similar ruling from the high court, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent.

Speaking in Dublin at a crowded Brexit fallout event today, the Conservative MP said while his Government respects the independence of the judiciary, it believes the British population's referendum views must be heard.

In a highly divisive step last Thursday, Britain's high court concluded that the Brexit referendum result can only be acted on once it is supported by a vote in parliament.

The move directly contradicts British prime minister Theresa May's position that she has the right to trigger Article 50 of the EU constitution - which begins the formal EU exit - without turning to parliament.

This is because the referendum vote last June was based on a decision by parliament to allow a decision to be made by referendum - effectively transferring the decision out to a public vote.

In response to last Thursday's high court ruling, the British government has insisted it should have the right to instigate a Brexit itself, while Remain campaigners have urged MPs to block any attempt to act on the referendum result.

Speaking in Dublin today, Northern Ireland secretary and Conservative MP Mr Brokenshire (pictured) repeated the view.

While saying he as a trained lawyer and his government believe in the independence of judges and will accept a supreme court decision if it backs up the high court position, he believes the referendum result should still be acted on.

"As a government we are very clear that the independence of the judiciary is one of the fundamental principles of our country.

"But we disagree with the decision of the high court on the decision it has taken, and that's why we will be appealing," he said.

"Clearly we will stand by any decision the supreme court rules on, but we do disagree with that assessment and that's why we will be appealing."

Asked if the Brexit result may now not be acted on, Mr Brokenshire added:

"Ultimately this is about giving the will of the people a voice. The UK public gave their verdict and we will follow through on that."

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