A clickbait headline to hopefully boost the C@W coffers but a serious point. The High Court's decision that an invocation of Article 50 needs parliamentary approval should not come as a surprise.
After all, the UK has a constitution, and in its simplest form our comstitution is that what Parliament says, goes. Not the government, not the people.
The mistake arises from the point that the legislation setting up the EU referendum did not say what would happen if Leave won. Fairly obviously, had Remain won then nothing would have changed and we would have carried on as if nothing had happened. But Parliament did not agree what the process would be in the event of a Leave vote. Parliament could have set this out but chose not to, for whatever reason. We don't have a general rule that a referendum trumps Parliament, although of course Parliament could introduce one if it wanted to.
The point about a parliamentary system is that only Parliament can overturn legislation enacted by Parliament; and our membership of the EU and the enforcement of EU law and procedures derives from UK legislation.
If the government was allowed to invoke Article 50 we might easily be in the absurd position that according to the treaties we had left but according to Parliament we were still a member, meaning that we still used EU law in our courts (where relevant) even though we no longer were invited to council meetings or European Parliamentary sessions.
Lots of people are saying "how dare the courts overturn the will of the people?!" but that is nonsense. The court is simply re-stating the obvious: that the leaving process must have a real legal basis.
It is now for Parliament to do its bit. Its options seem to be:
- pass a quick Bill giving the PM the power to invoke Article 50
- pass a complicated Bill invoking or allowing the PM to invoke, and setting out the consequences of leaving (by way of the proposed Great Repeal Bill, for example)
- to not pass anything and create a crisis, or force an early general election.
The government may quite like an election to be forced on it, as I have speculated before. How would Labour fare when half of its candidates represent areas which voted to leave but who have campaigned against the views of those areas? What would Jezza put in his manifesto on the issue? Would the pro-Remain parties field unitary candidates to try to rally support for a Remain majority?
The Tories could create a solid Tory manifesto and potentially win quite well on the back of it, playing the Brexit Means Brexit card, as well as grammar schools and other popular measures.
Open dicussion thread.