December 8, 2016 / 4:35 PM / 8 months ago

Parliament vote on Brexit trigger 'highly significant' to legal battle - govt lawyer

James Eadie QC arrives at the Supreme Court for the third day of the challenge against a court ruling that Theresa May's government requires parliamentary approval to start the process of leaving the European Union, in Parliament Square, central London, Britain December 7, 2016.Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - The British parliament's vote on Wednesday to back Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to trigger Brexit by end-March is "highly significant" to the legal battle over who has the power to authorise the step, a government lawyer said on Thursday.

The comment was made in the Supreme Court by James Eadie, who is acting for the government in an appeal against a ruling that would oblige ministers to seek parliament's assent before triggering Article 50, the EU's exit clause.

MPs voted 448 to 75 on Wednesday to support a motion calling on the government to give details of its Brexit plan, but also backing the government's timetable to trigger the divorce procedure by the end of March.

"We respectfully submit that is highly significant," Eadie told the Supreme Court.

"It isn't legally binding but that doesn't mean it isn't legally relevant. It provides the sharpest of focuses on the nature of the issues now in play, because the House of Commons has given specific approval to the government to give that (Article 50) notice and indeed has called on them to do so by a particular date."

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison

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