Top Tory Michael Gove defends judges amid outrage over Article 50 ruling

Posted On: 
8th November 2016

Former Justice Secretary Michael Gove has leapt to the defence of the three judges who last week ruled parliament must vote to trigger Brexit negotiations.

Former Vote Leave campaigner Michael Gove has given his backing to High Court judges
PA Images

Mr Gove, who was a key face of Vote Leave, backed the "brilliant, thoughtful, wise and decent men" amid scathing criticism from some high-profile Brexit backers since last week’s ruling.

The High Court justices were branded "enemies of the people" after they said Theresa May could not trigger Article 50 unilaterally.

Nigel Farage: High Court judges trying to block referendum result

Dominic Grieve hits out at government’s response to Brexit criticism of judges

Ex-Tory chairman Lord Patten calls for Sajid Javid to be sacked for attack on Brexit judges

Lord Chancellor backs 'independence and impartiality' of judges, but fails to condemn attacks

In a series of tweets, Mr Gove said: “The first thing to note is that judicial independence is critical to the rule of law and any proper democracy,”

“Good people can differ on their reasoning and conclusion - but I find much of it persuasive however, even if I didn't agree with elements of their reasoning I'd personally treat the judgement of three brilliant men with respect," he continued.

“BUT the freedom of the press is also important - some of us may object to judgements - others to headlines - but let's remember Voltaire, a raucous, vigorous, press is just as much a guarantor of freedom as our independent judiciary - we are the land of Wilkes and Edward Coke.”

Mr Gove also hit back at commentators who likened the public reaction to Nazism, with a further dig at European Union institutions.

His intervention follows criticism by pro-Remain Tories that Justice Secretary Liz Truss was too slow to condemn the attacks on the trio.

The Times reports that at a meeting of Tory MPs last night a number of Ms Truss’ colleagues hit out at her for failing to come to the defence of the judiciary more swiftly.

“There was a vocal exchange on exactly what the role of the Lord Chancellor should be,” one person who was at the meeting said.

“She claimed that following the Constitutional Reform Act in 2005 it was actually the lord chief justice whose job it was to defend the independence of the judiciary in public.

"But it was pointed out to her that that would have been hard in this case given that he was one of the judges.”

The party feud includes comments by Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who branded the case "an attempt to frustrate the will of the British people and it is unacceptable”.

His outburst prompted Tory grandee Lord Patten to call for Mr Javid's sacking, adding that the debate was starting to make the party look "mean and a bit nasty".

Judges in the Supreme Court will hear the case next month as the Government appeals the High Court decision.