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enemies of the people

The UK's Justice Minister eventually comes out to support these judges (kind of)

Liz Truss offered support to the judiciary but did not condemn newspaper headlines.

Brexit British Secretary of State for Justice was criticised for not coming out to defend the judiciary. Ben Birchall / PA Images Ben Birchall / PA Images / PA Images

BRITISH JUSTICE MINISTER Liz Truss offered her belated support for the independence of the judiciary after the High Court faced a string of political attacks over its controversial ruling on Brexit.

Truss had been criticised for staying silent over the backlash against Thursday’s landmark judgment that the government cannot start the process of leaving the European Union without parliament’s approval.

The Daily Mail denounced the three judges as “enemies of the people” while members of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative party accused them of “judicial activism” and of seeking to undermine the June referendum vote for Brexit.

“The independence of the judiciary is the foundation upon which our rule of law is built and our judiciary is rightly respected the world over for its independence and impartiality,” Truss said in a brief statement.

In relation to the case heard in the High Court, the government has made it clear it will appeal to the Supreme Court. Legal process must be followed.

Just a few hours earlier, the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, had issued a statement of regret at the minister’s silence over “serious and unjustified attacks on the judiciary”.

As justice minister and Lord Chancellor, Truss took an oath to defend the independence of the judiciary.

“A strong independent judiciary is essential to a functioning democracy and to upholding the rule of law,” the council said in a statement.

Communities minister Sajid Javid said the case was an “attempt to frustrate the will of the British people”, while former government minister Iain Duncan Smith accused the court of “judicial activism”.

Bob Neill, the chairman of parliament’s scrutiny committee on justice affairs, urged May to intervene, saying personal attacks on judges “have no place in a civilised land”.

The High Court ruled that the government did not have the power to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which sets off a two-year countdown to leaving the bloc, without prior approval of parliament.

Brexit UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said Article 50 will be invoked before the end of march 2017. Kirsty Wigglesworth / PA Images Kirsty Wigglesworth / PA Images / PA Images

The ruling prompted outrage among supporters of Brexit, sparking fears that it could delay the process that May had promised to start by the end of March.

Before the ruling, the prime minister had condemned those who brought the legal challenge, saying they were trying to “subvert” democracy.

Early election?

The court decision has fuelled speculation that May might call an early election to strengthen her support in the House of Commons before the EU vote.

Her slim majority was reduced further on Friday when pro-Brexit MP Stephen Phillips resigned, accusing the government of becoming too right-wing.

The next election is not due until 2020, but The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that ministers were now discussing the option of bringing the date forward.

© – AFP 2016

Read: Sinn Féin clarifies it won’t take Westminster seats, after McGuinness’ unclear comments > 

Read: Today’s British tabloids are not one bit impressed with yesterday’s Brexit decision >

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