According to Jeremy Wright, the Government’s Attorney General now leading the Supreme Court case, Article 50 is not an ‘ancient relic’ but in fact essential to ‘maintain control’. Maintain control, you say? So it was never lost after all, then. Who are we taking it back from?
What a stroke of good fortune that the Supreme Court was created in 2009. If not, this latest Brexit legal jamboree would be happening in what was, before that time, the highest court in the lands – the House of Lords. Imagine: the limits of the rights of parliament being decided inside parliament itself. The criminal passing sentence on itself. For post-truthers, propagandists and – in simple terms – downright liars, those sorts of opportunities don’t come along very often.
The best way to understand what’s happening in the Supreme Court today is to forget the referendum ever happened. It’s got nothing to do with it. If a British Prime Minister – let’s call her Theresa May – wandered into work one morning and said, “Right, I’m taking the UK out of the European Union. There’ll be no parliamentary vote on the matter. There’s this thing called Article 50, and I’m going to trigger it”, then the ensuing legal row would not look very different from the one that has now resumed in the Supreme Court.
You don’t necessarily need to have strayed within 100 yards of a Liberal Democrat in the last six months to know that the referendum was “advisory” (but it helps). Neither its result, nor the mere fact of it having taken place, has any legal bearing on the specifics of the case: namely whether it is the Government, and not parliament, that has the power to trigger Article 50, and formally begin negotiations to leave the European Union (negotiations which, more and more lawyers seem to think, do not even necessarily need to end in Brexit).
The Chancellor claims London can still be a world financial hub despite Brexit
“One of Britain’s great strengths is the ability to offer and aggregate all of the services the global financial services industry needs”
“This has not changed as a result of the EU referendum and I will do everything I can to ensure the City of London retains its position as the world’s leading international financial centre.”
Greece’s former finance minister compared the UK relations with the EU bloc with a well-known song by the Eagles: “You can check out any time you like, as the Hotel California song says, but you can’t really leave. The proof is Theresa May has not even dared to trigger Article 50. It’s like Harrison Ford going into Indiana Jones’ castle and the path behind him fragmenting. You can get in, but getting out is not at all clear”
Ryanair boss says UK will be ‘screwed’ by EU in Brexit trade deals: “I have no faith in the politicians in London going on about how ‘the world will want to trade with us’. The world will want to screw you – that’s what happens in trade talks,” he said. “They have no interest in giving the UK a deal on trade”
JD Wetherspoon’s chairman has said claims that the UK would see serious economic consequences from a Brexit vote were “lurid” and wrong: “We were told it would be Armageddon from the OECD, from the IMF, David Cameron, the chancellor and President Obama who were predicting locusts in the fields and tidal waves in the North Sea”
Governor of Bank of England is ‘serene’ about Bank of England’s Brexit stance: “I am absolutely serene about the … judgments made both by the MPC and the FPC”
IMF chief urges quick Brexit to reduce economic uncertainty: “We want to see clarity sooner rather than later because we think that a lack of clarity feeds uncertainty, which itself undermines investment appetites and decision making”
Lloyd’s chief executive says Brexit is a major issue: “Clearly the UK’s referendum on its EU membership is a major issue for us to deal with and we are now focusing our attention on having in place the plans that will ensure Lloyd’s continues trading across Europe”
President of US bank Morgan Stanley says City of London ‘will suffer’ as result of the EU referendum: “I do believe, and I said prior to the referendum, that the City of London will suffer as result of Brexit. The issue is how much”
Virgin founder believes we’ve lost a THIRD of our value because of Brexit and cancelled a deal worth 3,000 jobs: We’re not any worse than anybody else, but I suspect we’ve lost a third of our value which is dreadful for people in the workplace.’
He continued: “We were about to do a very big deal, we cancelled that deal, that would have involved 3,000 jobs, and that’s happening all over the country”
US President believes Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU: “It is absolutely true that I believed pre-Brexit vote and continue to believe post-Brexit vote that the world benefited enormously from the United Kingdom’s participation in the EU. We are fully supportive of a process that is as little disruptive as possible so that people around the world can continue to benefit from economic growth”
American economist and an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England argues that the economy had been “less stormy than many expected” following the shock referendum result: “For now…the economy is experiencing some chop, but no tsunami. The adverse winds could quickly pick up – and merit a stronger policy response. But recently they have shifted to a more favourable direction”
Had there been no referendum on the matter, no manifesto commitment, a number of obvious natural checks and balances would be in play, but there is no guarantee they would work. The Conservatives could topple their leader, but the likelihood of her being replaced by an even greater Eurosceptic – given the sheer tenacity of that wing of the parliamentary party, coupled with the views of the rank and file – must be considered high.
The opposition could bring a no confidence motion in the Government, but it tried that with its own leader and he returned with an even larger mandate than before. Can you bring down a Conservative Government, and one suddenly committed to leaving the EU, by forcing it into a general election against Jeremy Corbyn? You have to doubt whether Labour’s MPs would be all that keen on finding out.
No, the referendum does not legally compel any government to do anything. How can it? Parliamentary democracy is all but incompatible with referendums on government policy, which is why tyrants and demagogues up to and including Adolf Hitler deployed the latter to bring down the former.
Some referendums, in modern, functioning states are legally binding. The Alternative Vote referendum in 2011 was, but that was a choice between two clear electoral systems. California regularly holds referendums on new laws, but they’re backed up with extensive legal documents, the new laws codified in full, to which the voters say yes or no.
Leaving the European Union is not a simple yes/no question, whatever Nigel Farage and the rest might tell you. It is extravagantly complex, with a bewildering array of options to be fought over during an uncertain timeframe.
Retroactive critics of the referendum, from Ken Clarke to Sir David Attenborough, have all said how referendums cannot fit within a system of parliamentary democracy, deploying arguments essentially invoking Edmund Burke’s famous Speech to the Electors of Bristol of 1774, that a politician is elected to use his judgement, and “he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
Theresa May claims the Conservatives are the ‘party of working people’
Unfortunately, this old idea, of electing an expert to make your decisions for you, has also been put at risk through the willingness of certain elected “experts” to take to social media to advertise their utter lack of expertise on the issues at hand. David Davis’s war on Piers Morgan and Marmite really could sink the whole system.
According to Jeremy Wright, the Government’s Attorney General and a lawyer of modest achievements, who, had he not become an MP, would be highly unlikely to be leading a case in the Supreme Court, the Government’s prerogative power to deploy Article 50 is not a constitutional anomaly, an “ancient relic”, but in fact essential to “maintain control”.
Maintain control, you say? So it was never lost after all, then. Who are we taking it back from?
Whatever happens in court, one thing is not in doubt. By March, Article 50 will have been triggered, and the due process the nation is currently enjoying with such dramatic fanfare can begin in earnest: namely, the mother of all paydays for the lawyers. Source.