Thursday's High Court ruling might just stop the rotby Stephen Kinnock / November 4, 2016 / Leave a comment
At the heart of the Leave campaign was the argument that Brexit would enable the British people to “take back control,” primarily by restoring parliamentary sovereignty. Those three words resonated powerfully with the electorate, and had a decisive impact on the result. I campaigned passionately for “Remain,” but, first and foremost, I am a democrat and there is no doubt in my mind that the people’s will must be done—we must leave the EU. However, it has become equally clear since 23rd June that “take back control” apparently means very different things to different people, and yesterday’s court ruling has thrown those differences into sharp relief.
Exiting the EU could have been an opportunity for democratic empowerment—a means of rebuilding trust in our politics and institutions. But instead what we have witnessed is the unedifying spectacle of an over-bearing executive seeking to seize control by unilaterally imposing its version of Brexit on the British people.
I hope that this High Court ruling will help the government come to its senses—to start listening and stop dictating. The Prime Minister should reverse her decision to appeal through the Supreme Court—let’s get this issue out of the courtrooms and onto the floor of the House, where it belongs.
But yesterday’s ruling was also important in giving the decision to leave the EU legal force. If the government were to ignore this ruling then it would cast doubt on its ability to trigger Article 50, the first paragraph of which states:
“any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union, in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”
The next paragraph goes on to state that a member of the EU that has decided to leave must inform the European Council of this intention: in other words, notification is secondary to a constitutionally sound decision to trigger Article 50.
The referendum was, technically, advisory, so for it to have constitutional force, and therefore for the triggering of Article 50 to have full legal force at a European as well as UK level, it will require a Parliamentary vote. If the United Kingdom’s sovereign parliament has not voted to invoke Article 50, then Britain will not have acted “in accordance…