Opinion: Supreme Court & Brexit

On 4th November, 2016, the High Court ruled that the Government (mostly Theresa May) actually had to run their Brexit plans past Parliament before they could evoke Article 50, and thus begin the process of actually leaving the UK. The scary close vote of 52-48% Leave meant that while some people grabbed the wine and started a barn dance with joy, others took to claiming the three High Court Judges of the court of appeals were “traitors” and “enemies of the people” (Cough Daily Mail Cough). Liam Fox (A Tory minister) immediately announced they would appeal to the Supreme Court. Irony is that if they lost the Supreme Court, they would then have to appeal to the European Courts.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to my phone pinging, letting me know the Supreme Court had ruled that the High Court decision stood, with a few added caveats. The devolved administrations could not veto the Article 50 vote in Parliament, much to Nicola Sturgeon’s outrage. The result was a majority, not unanimous (as one article seems to be suggesting) with 8 to 3. There ruling was final – as a point of law, of which there was no precedence to guide the decision making, Parliament must be consulted before the Government can activate Article 50.

The plan was to use The Royal Prerogative (the great big press-only-in-emergencies-red-button of Government) to activate Article 50 but there was a lot of hazy, misty, misdirection and confusion about what a Brexit deal would look like because no one prepared for the eventuality that Leave would win. I mean, come on, I may not have liked David Cameron all that much, but he was the only one I could see navigating us through the shark infested waters to come. And now we have May, an unelected PM making decisions. Oh well, life goes on.

Gina Miller, a philanthropist with the spare cash to take the Government to court over Theresa May’s Conservative party conference promise to trigger Article 50 by March 2017, has been praised by one side, and demonised by the other. Twitter yesterday was amazing in how downright rude people can be, but also, idolatry. It was insane, and I got rather annoyed at the comments being made. Someone actually took the time to digitally change a photo of Gina Miller so she is a devil/demon. One side is vilifying her role, the other side putting her on a pedestal.

Britain is so split on this issue, and whatever happens, neither side can win! It’s a Catch-22, the country is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Now, in my opinion, the whole point of this appeal – going to the High Court – was not to say BLOCK IT but to say “we want to be included.” There was so much secrecy around the terms of Brexit – what was the plan? Was there a plan? Were our government stumbling around in the dark throwing out suggestions and hoping for the best? The secrecy was damaging. And if the aim of the Leave Campaign was to take back control, regain sovereignty yada yada yada, then actually – this was supporting that.

The judges are not “enemies of the people” as the Daily Fail has been lauding, presenting them as criminals who need to be censored and torn down. They were doing their job. They were providing an independent check to government, handing power back to the sovereign body and basically saying now wait a New York minute, you should all discuss this plan. Is there a plan? There was no goddam precedent for such a case, and Britain doesn’t have a codified constitution to refer back to like the US. The entire legal system is built on precedence.

The Supreme Court ruling today highlighted a fault in the system. Highlighted a fault that the politicians were so sure that we wouldn’t leave that they signed off on a deliberately ambiguous referendum. No-one could agree on whether the referendum was advisory or binding and the people who believe is split as equally on this as they are on the whole issue of Brexit.

All this back and forth is bad for the economy. I’ve seen people predicting a general election will be called. The devolved parliaments (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) have been largely ignored and they aren’t too please – Nicola Sturgeon in particular. Jeremy Corbyn has been fairly quiet and Tim Farron has called for a second referendum and has also stated that his party will be voting against the bill (hate to say this Tim, but you have nine MPs – not sure that will turn the tide).

Delaying Brexit, delaying Article 50, will not help the fact that people are afraid in the streets, afraid of the level of hate being bandied around. Leaving the EU won’t help either. I am upset that I will be losing my right to work in 27 countries, that people can’t be free to move as they please. I am angry that people think they are better than another people. I am scared. I am scared because of hate. I am scared because nothing is certain any more.

The Supreme Court ruling was a milestone. But I crave some stability now. I think that the Bill needs to go to Parliament soon, so we can find out what a post-brexit future will look like, and start preparing for it.

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