Ukip leadership candidate Suzanne Evans has been accused of advocating “fascism” after she called for judges to be subject to “democratic control”.
Evans this morning attacked the three High Court judges who ruled parliament must be given a vote on the triggering of Article 50 - the formal process that will allow the UK to leave the EU.
The majority of MPs having backed the ‘Remain’ campaign. But the Commons and Lords are expected to allow Theresa May to take the UK out of the EU in accordance with the referendum result.
However Evans accused the High Court of having “overridden the will of the British people” by ruling there must be a vote in parliament.
“I think there is a debate to be had about whether or not judges should be subject to some kind of democratic control,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Evans said she was “not saying we should get rid of judges” but suggested the judges allowed their pro-EU views to influence their decision. “I am questioning the legitimacy of this particular case,” she said.
Her comments were branded “irresponsible”. by Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer. “Some of us have worked in countries where judges do as governments tell them and we know that is highly corrosive of the rule of law and democracy,” he told Today.
Starmer said the High Court had simply “upheld the rule of law” by deciding the prime minister did not have the power to trigger Article 50 without a parliamentary vote. “It’s a slippery slope,” he said of Evans’ comments. “Principle is really important here. The rule of law really matters. It underpins this country.”
However Evans said she had not been talking about judges being subject to elections, but instead “pre-appointment and confirmation hearings” and “scrutiny by select committees”.
Evans was defended by Conservative MEP and Brexit campaigner Daniel Hannan.
Yesterday Tory grandee Lord Patten said communities secretary Sajid Javid should have been sacked for criticising the judges who ruled on Brexit.
Also on Sunday, the woman whose court case derailed the government’s Brexit plans forced Nigel Farage to admit that the EU referendum was only “advisory” under current law.
During a live TV clash, businesswoman Gina Miller told the UKIP leader that “what you argued for the whole way through [was] Parliamentary sovereignty” and the High Court had delivered exactly that.