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Anger over article 50: Protesters gather outside Mishcon over Brexit legal challenge

Protesters gathered outside the headquarters of City firm Mishcon de Reya today (7 July) in response to the firm’s plans to launch a legal action over the triggering of article 50 and the process of Brexit. However the City firm has also received over 1,500 emails of support of the action since the news emerged.

Located at Africa House in Holborn, a protest group named ‘spiked’ stood in front of the firm’s front doors and waved an orange banner stating ‘Invoke Article 50 Now!’ It is understood the protest lasted less than an hour.

The group’s Facebook page argues: ‘spiked is launching this campaign to call on the government to invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, initiating Britain’s exit, right now. And to defend democracy, too. If the Brexit quake has revealed anything, it’s that democracy is now disrespected across the political sphere. We need a new movement to defend the democratic ideal.’

An editor’s letter from the group’s website said of Mishcon: ‘[Mishcon] knows a majority of MPs want to stay in the EU, and clearly hopes they’ll overturn the people’s anti-EU will. Here we have a borderline coup, a legal firm nakedly elevating the interests of the capitalist class and expert cliques over the demands of the public.’

It has come as a surprise to many that the referendum is not legally binding in UK law and cannot alone trigger the UK’s departure from the EU, but rather, must be done under the withdrawal process laid down in article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Mishcon is preparing the action for September on behalf of a group of unnamed clients to ensure the UK does not begin the process of leaving the European Union without an act of parliament. It has since received over 1,500 emails in support of the action.

Earlier this week, Martin Howe QC, chair of pro-Brexit group Lawyers for Britain, called Mishcon’s proposed action ‘devoid of all legal merit.’

The announcement from Mishcon follows Devereux Chambers barrister Jolyon Maugham launching a crowdfunded legal challenge against the Brexit process last week.

Mishcon has retained David Pannick QC and Tom Hickman of Blackstone Chambers as well as Rhodri Thompson QC of Matrix Chambers and Anneli Howard of Monckton Chambers.

The firm declined to comment on the protest.

Read more about the article 50 action in: ‘Guest post: Don’t abuse the Brexit litigants – their action shows we live in a free country’