The court has been hearing from Ronan Lavery QC, who is speaking on behalf of Northern Ireland victims campaigner Raymond McCord — but it’s safe to say that Lavery has had something of a nightmare.
Lavery spent most of his time talking about the effects of a no-deal Brexit on Northern Ireland — which is decidedly not what the hearing is about.
At one point Lady Hale, the court’s President, interrupted in a somewhat exasperated tone.
“We’re not concerned with any of that,” she says. “We are concerned with the lawfulness of the decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks,” she added, rather than Brexit, and what form it would take.
That same criticism has been picked up by a number of judges, too. “The purpose of this hearing is not to rehearse the pros and cons of Brexit,” one tells Lavery.
“I’m really worried about your submissions – so many people are listening to you … and may come to entirely the wrong conclusion” about the purpose of the hearing, Lord Wilson added.
“Don’t abuse our politeness, and don’t abuse Lady Hale’s patience.”
Lavery had told the court that “the rising tide of nationalism that we’re witnessing is poisoning the harmony of the EU states” and directly affecting Northern Ireland’s ability to function.
He then urged the judges to look at the current legal question “in a way that recognizes the impact” on Northern Ireland, and adds that the erection of a hard border in Northern Ireland after a no-deal Brexit would be “devastating.”
But it doesn’t appear that his remarks will have much of an impact on the case.
Some context: McCord’s 22-year-old son was murdered by the UVF, a loyalist paramilitary group, in Belfast in 1997. He took the government to court on the grounds that its Brexit strategy could undermine the Good Friday agreement, and lost his case, but his team was invited to make an intervention at this hearing as well.
“Many victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland are still seeking justice,” Lavery told the judges.
“My client is comfortable with his identity he has a British passport and an Irish passport” and “he believes that in this court there is commonality of purpose to determine what the rule of law is and how it should be applied,” the lawyer added.