Leave campaign boss Michael Gove backs 'brilliant' Brexit judges

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Brexit campaign chief Michael Gove has backed the judges who ruled against the Government over the process for leaving the European Union.

The former justice secretary said that even if he disagreed with elements of the High Court decision, the three judges were "brilliant, thoughtful, wise and decent men".

Michael Gove
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Gove posted a series of messages on Twitter defending the judges, who have come in for sustained attack from some newspapers and Brexit-backing politicians.

He added that he found much of the reasoning and conclusion of the three men - including Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas - "persuasive".

But he stressed that a "raucous, vigorous, press is just as much a guarantor of freedom as our independent judiciary".

Lord Judge told BBC's Newsnight the "personal" attacks in the press on the judges "undermines public confidence in the judicial process".

He also raised concerns about a planned protest at the Supreme Court as it hears the Government's appeal against the ruling.

Lord Judge said: "Let's say for the sake of argument the Supreme Court decides the high court was wrong, it will undoubtedly be conveyed as a victory for the demonstrators. It won't be but that's what will be conveyed. And if that is conveyed you've undermined the administration of justice."

Lord Judge
(Judicial Office/PA)

Theresa May has insisted the Government remains on course to fire the Brexit starting gun by the end of March next year despite the legal setback.

The Prime Minister said she was confident the Government had "strong legal arguments" but urged the Supreme Court judges to spell out the details of what ministers have to do if it loses the appeal against the ruling.

If judges rule that an Act of Parliament is required, MPs and peers will have a series of opportunities to amend the legislation - potentially causing difficulties to the Government's timetable.

Speaking to the BBC in India, the Prime Minster insisted: "I'm clear that I expect to be able to trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year. That's what I've said consistently and I continue to work on that basis."