'A colossal waste of money': Government spent £1.2m on Article 50 case legal costs

Posted On: 
20th July 2017

The Government spent £1.2m on legal costs in its bid to stop MPs voting to trigger Article 50, it has emerged. 

Brexit Secretary David Davis
Credit: 
PA Images

The Department for Exiting the European Union’s annual accounts revealed £700,000 was spent on the court cases, with an extra £500,000 on “court ordered litigation costs”.

Labour’s Keir Starmer called it a “colossal waste of money”.

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In total DExEU spent £3.7m on legal costs in 2016/17, making it the second highest area of spending behind staffing.

The Government had previously refused to publish how much they spent on trying to deny Parliament a say on when the formal process of leaving the European Union should begin.

The High Court and Supreme Court both ruled against ministers, who had been arguing that triggering Article 50 should be a matter for the Prime Minister alone.

When the Government did introduce legislation to give Theresa May the authority to invoke Article 50, it was passed unamended by both the Lords and Commons.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Mr Starmer said: “Taking this case to the Supreme Court was a colossal waste of time and money. Parliament needed be brought into the Brexit process, not pushed away.

"To have spent over £1m of taxpayers’ money trying to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny says all you need to know about this Prime Minister’s priorities and her closed, divisive approach to Brexit.”

The Liberal Democrats described the spending as a “kick in the teeth for taxpayers”. 

“The Conservatives fought every step of the way in the courts to try and avoid proper scrutiny over Brexit, now the public is having to pick up the tab,” Tom Brake, the party’s Brexit spokesman, added.

“The Government repeatedly refused to make this information public, and now have slipped it out at the eleventh hour.

“None of this would have happened if the Government had done the right thing and given Parliament a full role from the start.

“But this bill is nothing compared to the huge cost the country will pay if the Conservatives plough ahead with their extreme version of Brexit.”