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Northern Irish 'no-deal' Brexit challenge dismissed in court

Belfast

BELFAST'S High Court dismissed on Thursday a case arguing that a British exit from the European Union without a withdrawal agreement would contravene Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord.

The case is one of a series across the United Kingdom challenging Prime Minister's Boris Johnson's Brexit strategy.

Mr Johnson has said that Britain must leave the EU on Oct 31, whether or not it secures a deal on an orderly exit.

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Scotland's highest court of appeal ruled on Wednesday that Mr Johnson's decision to suspend parliament for five weeks was unlawful and should be annulled, a verdict that will be appealed at the United Kingdom Supreme Court next week.

Rights campaigner Raymond McCord, one of three people backing the case, said he would fight the decision in an appeal that could be heard in Belfast as early as Friday and hoped to join the other challenges in the UK's highest court next week.

Lawyers for Mr McCord had argued that a no-deal Brexit would breach the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to the British-run province, but Judge Bernard McCloskey said the case "trespassed upon the prohibited domain of the non-justiciable".

"I consider the characterisation of the subject matter of these proceedings as inherently and unmistakably political to be beyond plausible dispute," Judge McCloskey said in a 68-page written judgement.

"Virtually all of the assembled evidence belongs to the world of politics, both national and supra-national."

A lawyer representing Mr Johnson's government said on Monday that under Article 50 of the EU Treaty, the obligation to negotiate was on Brussels rather than on the member state. REUTERS